Apr 17, 2024 - Health

CVS pharmacy workers move to unionize

Illustration of a pharmacy worker holder a protest sign in the shape of a prescription that reads "enough!"

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Pharmacists at CVS stores are moving to join a new union as part of a growing backlash to what they say are unsafe work conditions.

Why it matters: The new unionization effort comes months after pharmacy workers at major retailers staged walkouts — dubbed "pharmageddon" — in response to understaffing and growing workplace demands that they warn are putting patients' health at risk.

Driving the news: Pharmacists at two CVS locations in Rhode Island, where the conglomerate is headquartered, filed to unionize with the Pharmacy Guild.

  • The Las Vegas branch of CVS subsidiary Omnicare, which fills prescriptions for nursing homes, became the first location to file its paperwork with the new union last month.

The other side: "We respect our employees' right to either unionize or refrain from doing so," CVS spokesperson Amy Thibault said in a statement.

  • CVS has invested about $1 billion in wage increases since 2021 and made other training and recruiting improvements, Thibault added.

Zoom out: The Pharmacy Guild, which launched late last year following the nationwide walkouts, is the first union dedicated to representing pharmacies.

  • Thousands of pharmacy workers, including CVS and Walgreens employees, have also unionized with other groups like the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

What's next: The Las Vegas Omnicare branch will vote whether to officially unionize on April 24, USA Today reported.

  • The Pharmacy Guild said there are ongoing efforts to unionize more pharmacies across the country.

Go deeper: Pharmacies are struggling to refill their own ranks

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