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5 things: Will pharmacists have a union vote?

Here’s 5 things you may have missed in grocery

Pharmacists unite!: Doctors and pharmacists are joining the ranks of auto workers, retail employees, and other blue-collar workers on the picket lines in response to longer hours, fewer resources, and tighter corporate control, according to a recent New York Times article. With a headline declaring "Why Doctors and Pharmacists Are in Revolt,” the story published in early December gives a voice to health care workers who are so fed up, they’re beginning to unionize. The ongoing pressure from corporate entities for doctors and pharmacists and other health care workers to do more with less prompted nonunion pharmacists at CVS and Walgreens shops across the country to call in sick or simply walk off the job earlier this year. Many expected the ever-increasing workload to subside as the pandemic slowed down over the last couple of years, but that never happened for many—and from their perspective, there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel. “Corporate tells you how to manage your patient,” said Dr. Frances Quee, president of the Doctors Council, a union that represents about 3,000 doctors, told the New York Times. “You know that’s not how you’re supposed to manage your patient, but you can’t say anything because you’re scared you’re going to be fired.” She said the inquiries from doctors looking to unionize has grown so rapidly that the Doctors Council is hiring more organizers, and now even pharmacists are inquiring. “Two days ago, pharmacists called me from Florida. We’ve never done pharmacists before,” Quee said. —Timothy Inklebarger

Shopping alone: $68?!?! AHHHHHHHH!! Yes, that’s right, if Kevin from the movie Home Alone bought the same grocery items he did back in 1990 it would be a whopping $68…well, $63.73 plus tax to be exact. Grocery prices were much more tame over 30 years ago, when Kevin slapped down a $20 (plus a $1 coupon for Tropicana orange juice) to cover a TV dinner, a loaf of Wonder Bread, a single portion of Stouffer’s Mac & Cheese, a half gallon of milk, cling wrap, Tide laundry detergent, toilet paper, a half gallon of orange juice, a pack of toy army men, and dryer sheets. Ah, the good ole days. Now, the Wet Bandits would have to hit a ton more houses to make a decent living. Of course, all of the excitement of the cost carried over to social media. “I bet the cashier’s wage is still the same in 2023,” wrote one poster. “Kevin was in Chicago, it’s expensive! And he would pay for bags today,” wrote another. After ringing up such a high bill, the Kevin of today might want to stay lost. —Bill Wilson

Inflation’s impact: Inflation has famously impacted Americans since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, but just how much is it affecting people in the grocery aisles, and how long will it continue? According to Bloomberg, grocery prices are up 25% since January 2020, while hourly wages have “barely budged” — and even those who have had big pay increases in that time are barely better off. One pound of ground beef is $5.23, up from $3.89 in January 2020. Coffee is up $2 per pound, fresh produce is up 14%, and at one point eggs were triple their pre-pandemic price. Now, inflation is slowing — grocery inflation is expected to be less than 2% next year, but a return to pre-pandemic pricing doesn’t seem to be in the cards. And going into an election year, that could affect more than just a family’s grocery bill: An October poll from Bloomberg New/Morning Consult showed that more than half of voters in swing states say groceries are the main way they’re impacted by inflation. Leigh Anne Zinsmeister

The pay was good at one grocery store: If you slept on a mound of toilet paper would you be able to survive weeks living in a grocery store? MrBeast, a famous YouTuber, bought his own food market and came up with the brilliant idea of paying someone $10,000 a day to live in whichever aisle he chose. The resident, named Alex, had to earn his daily pay by trading in $10,000 of items in his store. A pile of toilet paper served as his bed  (I’m thinking it was a twin), but that was wiped out when a punctured inflatable swimming pool flooded an area of the store. Dang forklift! The power went out one night, forcing Alex to scan all of the frozen and refrigerated items in the dark so the food would be worth something. Alex was determined to rack up $1 million in cash (his daily earnings came in $1 bills), but only lasted to $450,000. Apparently the last straw was when a robot, not a human, showed up with his $10,000 winnings. I’m not sure if the robot’s feelings were hurt because, well, they don’t have feelings. —BW

Big buck meets big-box: They came for the deals on bulk items and the ubiquitous tasting samples, but instead, shoppers at a Sam’s Club in Corona, Calif., got an unexpected visitor from the great outdoors. A “runaway deer” made its way into the warehouse retailer on Dec. 3, according to a story by local TV news website KIRO 7. The buck made its way into the store through the sliding glass doors and headed straight for the TV section. I know there’s a Bambi joke in here somewhere that I’m missing. The slick flooring caused the deer to slip and slide around Sam’s until local officiasl apprehended the wild animal. “The young buck ran through yards, jumped a wall, and took a brief dip in a backyard pool before entering Sam’s Club on Ontario Avenue where it was captured by police personnel,” police told the TV station. —TI

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