(CHICAGO) — Since Teamsters Local 727 representatives began informing the public of the safety risks associated with CVS management’s mistreatment of overworked and understaffed Chicago-area pharmacists, the union has received an outpouring of support from pharmacists and CVS customers from across the country.
“Many current and former CVS pharmacists, from California to Maryland, have echoed our members’ concerns,” said John Coli Jr., President of Local 727. “This fight isn’t just about our 150 union pharmacists; it’s about ensuring the ongoing safety and sanctity of the pharmacy profession.”
As one former CVS pharmacist in California wrote, “Pharmacists are forced to knowingly avoid patient contact to keep up with ‘superfluous tasks,’ and angry patients pose much less of a threat to your job than an upset District Manager who asks why you ‘can’t keep up.’ … CVS is an unsafe employer.”
The three-year contract covering about 150 Chicago-area CVS pharmacists expired Saturday, May 7. Teamsters Local 727 and CVS do not have an extension agreement in place, so the pharmacists are currently working without a contract. After eight negotiation meetings over two months, CVS management has made little movement to address CVS pharmacists’ “quality of life” concerns, such as uninterrupted breaks, sufficient tech hours, preservation of the nine-hour workday, and elimination of excessive tasks that take away from pharmacists’ primary job responsibilities.
Instead, the company is demanding that pharmacists work 12-hour shifts without allowing them the time and support they need to complete their ever-growing list of daily tasks.
In addition, CVS has proposed meager 1 percent wage increases and has yet to respond to the union’s last economic proposal from May 3. Meanwhile, the corporation this month reported its revenue jumped nearly 19 percent to $43.2 billion in the first quarter of 2016.
In the weeks since the last bargaining meeting on May 10, members of CVS management have been visiting pharmacies to talk about ongoing negotiations in an attempt to intimidate and directly deal with pharmacists. Local 727 also has filed multiple unfair labor practice charges against CVS with the National Labor Relations Board.
The Local 727 Bargaining Committee and CVS management have agreed to resume negotiations Thursday, May 26.
“We have made it abundantly clear what the pharmacists want from management: to let them be pharmacists, to let them do the job they love and were trained to do. They want to serve their patients, they want to help grow the business, but they need the support to do it,” Coli said. “We are hopeful that CVS management will finally listen to pharmacists’ concerns so we can reach a fair agreement. But no matter what happens, this local union will do whatever it takes to support our members.”
Teamsters Local 727 represents nearly 10,000 hardworking men and women throughout the Chicago area, including about 700 CVS and Osco pharmacists.