Aspiring pharmacist union slams CVS' $2B earnings

A day after CVS Health reported earning $2 billion in its fourth quarter of 2023, the Pharmacy Guild — an aspiring union of retail pharmacists — criticized the company, saying CVS' profits are from "chronic understaffing."

"As CVS celebrates its ongoing financial successes, they fail to acknowledge that these profits come at the cost of systemic patient care shortcuts being taken nationwide inside their stores," the Pharmacy Guild said in an emailed statement shared with Becker's. "Their profits are premised on systemic decisions to short-staff their pharmacies below safe levels, which is resulting in patients experiencing delays receiving medications they rely on."

In November, following a three-day walkout among a small group of pharmacy workers who protested understaffing and heavy workloads, the walkout's organizers created the Pharmacy Guild. Thousands of retail pharmacists have joined the cause, according to the organization. 

The guild is in the process of becoming a union through a collaboration with IAM Healthcare, a union of healthcare professionals affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

In its statement, the organization called on CVS to reprioritize: "It's time CVS starts living up to its responsibilities to patients, not just its rich shareholders."

In response, a CVS spokesperson told Becker's the company's financial results were driven by meeting the needs of consumers "by enabling access to high quality, convenient and affordable care." He added the company is strengthening pharmacy technician training, increasing its recruitment and improving its workflows to help staff. 

"We're committed to ensuring there are appropriate levels of staffing and resources at our pharmacies," the spokesperson said. "Since 2021, we've invested roughly $1 billion in wage increases and, in 2024, alone, we're awarding $70 million dollars in bonuses to recognize and thank our pharmacists and pharmacy technicians."

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