Sep 8, 2023 - News

Cleveland Walgreens pharmacy workers are unionizing

The side of a Walgreens building

The Clark-Fulton Walgreens. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

Pharmacy workers at three Northeast Ohio Walgreens locations have declared their intent to unionize.

Driving the news: A majority of pharmacists, technicians and customer associates at the Kamm's Corners, Clark Avenue and Broadway Avenue locations signed union cards and delivered letters to store managers Friday morning.

Why it matters: In Northeast Ohio, recent workplace organizing efforts at Starbucks, REI and elsewhere have created an atmosphere of contagious worker empowerment.

Between the lines: Earlier this year, Walgreens workers made inroads with the United Food and Commercial Workers union, but ultimately decided to organize on their own under the banner "Pharmacy Workers United."

  • UFCW represents more than 4,400 employees at Walgreens and Duane Reade (a Walgreens affiliate) nationwide.

What they're saying: "Retail pharmacies are some of the most demanding and stressful workplaces in healthcare," says the letter to store managers, which was shared with Axios along with the signed union cards.

  • "Pharmacy workers fill hundreds and hundreds of prescriptions every day with often bare-bones staffing."
  • "At the same time, we do data entry, sell prescriptions at the pharmacy counter and drive-through, receive medication shipments, counsel patients, direct patients to products in the store, provide vaccinations, ensure medication safety, check expiration dates, manage pharmacy records, and answer phone calls from patients, doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and insurances."

By the numbers: The letter asks that the minimum hourly wage for pharmacy workers be raised to $20 per hour.

  • It also asks that budgeted pharmacy technician hours be increased by 20%.

The bottom line: "As team members, we are deeply committed to our patients and to Walgreens' purpose of creating more joyful lives through better health," the letter reads.

  • "Having improved working conditions and compensation would allow us to better perform our jobs and better serve Walgreens patients."

What's next: Walgreens management could voluntarily recognize the union. Otherwise, the National Labor Relations Board will be enlisted to help mediate.


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