CVS Management’s ‘Totally Unacceptable’ Behavior During Negotiations Leads to Wasted Days at Bargaining Table
CVS representatives on Tuesday sat on their hands for more than eight hours — failing to respond to contract proposals or even meet with Teamsters Local 727 Bargaining Committee members — then followed that up with another drawn-out session on Wednesday.
On Tuesday afternoon, CVS management emailed two proposals to the union. Local 727 fully and comprehensively responded to one of the proposals in detail. In return, company representatives considered the union’s position for approximately five minutes before calling Local 727’s response “totally unacceptable.”
“There is only one party whose behavior was totally unacceptable, and that’s CVS,” said John Coli Jr., President of Local 727. “Management wasted the entire day Tuesday and much of the day Wednesday. CVS has made it clear it is eager to continue taking advantage of our pharmacy members with little regard for the current contract’s expiration or the Bargaining Committee’s valuable time.”
Negotiations were scheduled from at 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday and resumed at 10 a.m. Wednesday, but the company did not sit down face-to-face with the Local 727 Bargaining Committee until 2:37 p.m. Wednesday. At that time, CVS pharmacists finally were able to voice their concerns about many of the “quality of life” issues the union has emphasized in its contract proposals, such as unpaid mandatory job duties, sufficient tech help and vacation scheduling.
“There is not enough time in the week and the day to get our tasks done,” said CVS PIC Courtney di Iacova, a Local 727 Bargaining Committee member. “Not only that, the company holds so-called ‘voluntary’ meetings that aren’t just little perks with fun facts, they contain information that is necessary for us to do our jobs, and yet, we aren’t being paid to attend them. It’s not right.”
Union reps and CVS pharmacists also discussed how the contractually provided quarterly Labor-Management Committee meetings have not been effective in addressing pharmacists’ ongoing issues.
“I was in most of these meetings, and it stung to hear a member of management say they were not obligated to respond to us, that they were just there to listen,” said CVS steward Jeremy Aguila, a Local 727 Bargaining Committee member. “It feels like we’re talking to a wall.”
The union has proposed ways to improve Labor-Management Committee meetings while the company’s proposals are intended to limit the scope of topics that can be discussed during the meetings.
“These committee meetings only really work if concerns are addressed in a substantive way,” Coli said. “Otherwise, we wind up in a situation like what we have now, where we have to use precious time during contract negotiations talking about issues that could and should be resolved in Labor-Management Committee meetings. This should not be how the process works.”
Following five negotiation meetings, virtually no progress has been made toward reaching an agreement on a new contract for about 150 CVS pharmacists. Since Day One, CVS management has been demanding across-the-board cuts to pharmacists’ benefits with diminished protections.
“Many of the company’s proposals are designed to codify the mid-term contract changes they made – such as cutting store hours and taking away full-time benefits from pharmacists — and the union will not stand for it,” Coli said.
Additional bargaining dates have been scheduled for May 2 and May 3. The current three-year contract expires May 7, 2016.
Nothing in this article should be read as the union’s waiver of any legal argument, position or additional grievance. The union does not forfeit its right to make any and all supplemental arguments.