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SAN DIEGO — A large and loud crowd, including San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and other top San Diego leaders, gathered Monday in Point Loma in front of the CVS pharmacy in the Midway District in support of local essential workers looking to secure a new contract.

“There’s over 8,400 workers from San Francisco to border, and just barely, 1,300 are enrolled in a company plan,” said Todd Walters, a member of the UFCW Local 135.

UFCW Local 135 and the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council set up the Labor Day rally to bring attention to what they say is unfair labor practices. The frontline workers, whom for the most part say they kept CVS open during the pandemic, argued the contract they are being offered does not value them as essential workers.

“The most important thing we’re trying to negotiate is health insurance,” Walters said during the rally. “CVS is part of Aetna — they are a health care insurance provider. The company medical plan is so expensive, many of the workers are on medical or other assistance programs.”

Gloria was there to support and listed a number of projects that would not get done if it weren’t for workers and the unions.

“We’ve always understood that it is workers that make the city work, but it’s union workers and standing up for workers that is changing San Diego for the better,” Gloria said. “I believe in the power of collective-bargaining of organizing and employees coming together to assert themselves.”

According to union representatives, there have been over two dozen bargaining sessions between UFCW Local 135 and CVS. There is still no deal in sight.

“We’re trying to negotiate minimum wages,” Walters said. “The company’s last proposal to us on Thursday was a 30 cent raise for clerks.”