Employees of Price Rite, a regional grocery store chain, took to the streets in front of the Providence store on Friday to, in their words, “Change Price Rite for the Better.”
That was the name given to the protest held outside the Valley Street grocery store on Friday that brought national AFL-CIO Secretary Elizabeth Shuler to the Ocean State.
The effort was “part of regional and national efforts to highlight the need for retail companies, like Price Rite, to pay the hard-working men and women better wages, provide better benefits, offer consistent scheduling, and respect on the job,” according to a press release from the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) Local 328 and Rhode Island Jobs for Justice.
There are six Price Rite stores in Rhode Island, according to the company website – in Providence, Pawtucket, Cranston, Warwick, Johnston and Woonsocket, and 60 between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Each Price Rite “employs anywhere from 75 to 150 associates,” according to its website.
“Price Rite not only hurts employees, families and their communities, but its low wage model hurts everybody in the retail industry,” said UFCW Local 328 President Tim Melia. He was one 75 employees and labor activists marching, holding signs and calling for better benefits and wages on Friday afternoon.
Said Mike Araujo, new executive director of Rhode Island Jobs With Justice: “The unity of RI’s labor movement is a real force, the lines of gender, race, and class are no match for a committed and militant labor movement, the workers at Price Rite have a natural right to dignity, respect, and justice, this show of solidarity says to the bosses: We will fight, and we will win.“