After Target wage hike, labor groups turn to drugstore chains

Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:03pm EDT
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By Nandita Bose

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Some labor groups looking to broaden their push for minimum wage hikes after success at big U.S. retailers including Target Corp, are preparing to take on drugstore chains.

A source this week said Target (TGT.N: Quote) will raise its minimum wage to $9 per hour in April, matching moves by rivals Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: Quote) and TJX Cos (TJX.N: Quote).

The retailers, which were targeted by labor advocates and their allies, are also facing tougher competition for employees as unemployment drops to its lowest level in more than six years.

Labor activists said the wage hikes by big retailers will give them greater leverage with drugstore operators, who make up one of the fastest-growing and most profitable areas in retail.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW), a union which played a key role in pressuring Wal-Mart, said it will accelerate its efforts to organize Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (WBA.O: Quote) workers to demand better pay.

Walgreens is the top U.S. drug retailer, followed by CVS Health Corp (CVS.N: Quote) and Rite Aid Corp (RAD.N: Quote).

"Given the current momentum, we expect a faster chance of success in hiking minimum wage within the retail space which includes drug chains, than say the fast food sector," said Marc Goumbri, a spokesman for the UFCW.

Another labor group, The New York-New Jersey Joint Board of Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), is planning to start wage negotiations this summer with the management of Duane Reade, a local subsidiary of Walgreens.   Continued...

People walk by a Walgreens store in Pasadena, California December 20, 2013.   REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni