Retail pharmacy walkout organizers push for unionization

After a three-day walkout of retail pharmacy employees across the U.S., organizers of the grassroots labor action created an organization that seeks to unionize the workforce and advocate for safer working conditions. 

The creation of the organization, the Pharmacy Guild, follows a quiet "pharmageddon" — when an unknown but small number of pharmacy workers at CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid locations walked out to protest understaffing and heavy workloads, which organizers said are compromising patient care. 

"Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have exercised just a fraction of their true collective power and corporations have been forced to start listening, but we know fundamental change will not happen without persistence, organization and accountability," the organization said on its website

The group, which was created Nov. 8, said corporate leaders are responding to concerns to "placate protesting employees" but marginal changes will be made without a formal representation for retail pharmacy workers. The group is collaborating with IAM Healthcare, a union of healthcare professionals affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, on the effort.

"This is more than a union organizing effort," the Pharmacy Guild said. "It is a call to take this powerful social movement of pharmacy professionals to the next level by developing the organizational infrastructure and institutional influence necessary to make real change."

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