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Latest News - September 2011

September 28, 2011
Labor contract excludes new pharmacists
Source: Sacramento Business Journal
By: Kathy Robertson

United Food and Commercial Workers appears to represent more than 700 pharmacists in California -- primarily in Rite Aid and CVS stores -- but the numbers are poised to dwindle.

A new contract ratified by about 3,500 union members in Rite Aid stores in Northern and Central California late last month states that new pharmacists hired under the contract will be excluded from the bargaining unit.

That provision means the slow end of unionized pharmacists in the region, a big development for the profession.

UFCW didn't mention it when they touted the new contract, which also covers drug store technicians and clerks. A Rite Aid spokeswoman didn't talk specifics in her applause on the agreement, either, but details are generally released by the union, not the employer.

David Stanley, a Rite Aid pharmacist in Monterey, noticed the change. He's been a UFCW member since 2006.

"UFCW agreed to essentially de-unionize pharmacists over time, which baffles me," he wrote in an email.

UCFW Local 8, which represents workers in the Sacramento region isn't talking. President Jacques Loveall said through a spokeswoman that it's union policy to discuss details only with members.

It's unusual for a pharmacist to be a union member, Stanley said. They are generally considered management.

There's a small union that represents Walgreens pharmacists in the Chicago area and a smattering of other locals around the country, but Stanley estimates more than 90 percent of working pharmacists aren't union members.

The difference is stuff such as guaranteed breaks and lunch periods -- and staffing at a level so pharmacists can do their job professionally and completely, including counseling patients.




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