Osco management opened contract negotiations on April 12 by stating its goal was to show how much they care about pharmacists, not only during negotiations but “on a daily basis, where it really counts.” However, since then, the company’s actions have done nothing but demonstrate the exact opposite.
During the fourth meeting on April 26, the company made only three counter-proposals, claiming that the proposals addressed all of the key issues facing pharmacists. However, the company packaged those meager proposals and made them contingent on the Teamsters Local 727 Bargaining Committee withdrawing all of its remaining non-economic proposals, which deal with important issues such as scheduling/coverage, tech hours/overlap, part-timers’ benefits, job postings and floaters’ geographic restrictions.
Also included in the company’s package was its initial proposal to allow unfettered holiday scheduling for newly hired full-time pharmacists and newly promoted part-timers.
“We’re trying to be partners, we’re trying to help this company succeed and grow, and in order to do that, we need certain things addressed,” said John T. Coli, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 727. “I don’t know what was in your mind when you made this proposal. By saying no to everything — the core issues for our members, the very demands the pharmacists made — it’s clear that you haven’t listened to us and don’t intend to start. And frankly, we don’t see any way forward until we see movement on these issues.”
“I feel like they’re playing games. They don’t care about pharmacists’ personal issues, and they’re not taking pharmacists’ concerns seriously,” said overnight pharmacist steward Michael Trnka, a Bargaining Committee member.
“They keep saying that they have money to spend, but they don’t want to spend it on making things safer for their customers by increasing overlap and tech support or by allowing pharmacists to take their much-needed and hard-earned vacation and personal time,” said head pharmacist Melissa Henry, a Bargaining Committee member.
At the end of the previous bargaining session, Osco management was adamant that the Local 727 Bargaining Committee be ready to begin negotiations on April 26 at 9 a.m. sharp, but it was management that was late to the meeting. Additionally, Osco still has not responded to the majority of Local 727’s information requests, including several that the union made before negotiations even began.
One of the few proposals Osco management actually responded to April 26 was union pharmacists’ demands for new uniforms. The company’s proposal would provide for three uniforms during the life of the contract only at pharmacists’ request — but then management specifically stipulated that pharmacists not ask for the uniforms immediately after the contract is ratified.
“It’s this kind of ridiculous rhetoric that is impeding our progress,” Coli said. “We have made it very clear what the pharmacists want from management: to let us be pharmacists, to let us do the job we love and were trained to do. We want to be the face of the company, we want to talk to customers, we want to grow the business, but we need the support to do it.
“At some point there has to be a line in the sand, and I think we’re there.”
Negotiations are scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. April 27 and April 29. The current three-year contract expires May 7, 2016.