2004-01-16 / Community

Union Claims Duane Reade Owes Millions

Union Claims Duane Reade Owes Millions

An audit conducted as the result of a lawsuit brought against Duane Reade has discovered that the retailer has failed to make $5.7 million in contributions and other monies to its employee pension, health and welfare and vacation benefit funds, the Retail Worker’s Union, the organization attempting to organize the store’s workers argue.

According to the union, as of November 30, 2003, Duane Reade owes the its mutual fund, the employee pension fund, $1,105,937 in benefit fund contributions and $456,890.90 in interest and other fees. The retailer owes the Allied Welfare Fund, the employee health fund, $2,295,299.20 in contributions and $1,201,979.70 in interest and fees. Finally, it was found that Duane Reade owes the Vacation Fringe Benefit Fund $567,363.63 in contributions as well as $157,627.93 in interest and fees.

"Duane Reade has once again proved that it is New York’s greediest employer," said the union’s representative John R. Durso, president of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. "Not only has Duane Reade left its employees without a collective bargaining agreement for more than two years, paid their workers one of the lowest salaries in the industries, forced them to pay more for significantly reduced health care coverage, but now we find that they have also flagrantly disregarded ERISA laws and failed to make mandatory contributions to the employee funds."

In response, ATC/Local 338 RWDSU has launched a "Dwayne Greed Campaign," calling for an end to Duane Reade’s unfair labor practices, and demanding the giant retailer bargain a contract. "This illustrates how desperately these workers need union representation, and how important it is that Duane Reade comes to the bargaining table," Durso said.

The union says that the National Labor Relations Board has issued numerous complaints against Duane Reade, including that the company has not provided ATC/Local 338 with an up-to-date list of employees; harassed the union’s agents, interfered with, restrained and coerced employees in the exercise of their right to union activity; discriminated in terms of employment relating to union activity; refused to bargain with the union; and unlawfully circulated a petition to decertify ATC/Local 338 as the union representing employees.

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