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Workers at two CVS stores petition to join new union

Separate election next week for Omnicare employees seeking to join Pharmacy Guild

Workers at two CVS stores in Rhode Island have filed paperwork to join a new union called the Pharmacy Guild, according to reports.

The petition follows another filed last month at a CVS-owned Omnicare facility in Las Vegas, where a union election to certify the Pharmacy Guild is scheduled for next week.

The Pharmacy Guild was launched last year by I AM Healthcare, which is a division of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, known as IAM. I AM Healthcare represents more than 10,000 health care professionals, including pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, at hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. 

The unionization effort follows reports from CVS and Walgreens locations around the country about difficult labor conditions in the wake of the pandemic, which the retailers said they have taken steps to address.

CVS has invested about $1 billion in wage increases since 2021, a spokesperson for the retailer told Supermarket News. This year, CVS plans to award “tens of millions of dollars in bonuses” for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, the pharmacy retailer has said.

“We’re enabling pharmacy teams to schedule additional support as needed, enhancing recruitment, and strengthening pharmacy technician training,” the spokesperson said. “We’re also introducing innovative tools to support workload and workflow, enabling our pharmacy teams to better focus on patient care.”

The retailer’s customer and employee net promoter scores (NPS), which measure loyalty, satisfaction, and enthusiasm, have been trending up in both the front store and pharmacy, reflecting the retailers’ investments, the spokesperson said.

“We respect our employees’ right to either unionize or refrain from doing so,” the spokesperson said. “We believe the direct, two-way relationship we have with our colleagues is the best way to resolve workplace concerns. We continually listen to our colleagues’ feedback, which helps inform our programs and policies.”

The United Food & Commercial Workers union already represents thousands of pharmacy workers at CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid locations around the country.

As SN previously reported, the Pharmacy Guild had been gaining interest from some retail drugstore workers at CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid.

The two Rhode Island CVS stores, located in Wakefield and Westerly, appear to be the first CVS retail drugstore pharmacies to seek to join the Pharmacy Guild. Both are within about an hour from the retailer’s headquarters in Woonsocket, R.I.

More than two dozen workers at the CVS-owned Omnicare Nevada pharmacy facility in Las Vegas, which serves several long-term healthcare facilities in the state but does not have a retail component, filed a petition last month with the National Labor Relations Board to join the Pharmacy Guild. The NLRB last week scheduled an election for April 24 to certify the union as the employees’ representative in negotiations with Omnicare, which CVS acquired in 2015.

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