Teamsters Local 727 Finds That Jewel-Osco Pharmacies Are Not Adequately Cleaned Following COVID-19 Exposure

| November 23, 2020

As COVID-19 cases double in the Chicagoland area in a matter of days, Jewel-Osco, a wholly owned subsidiary of Albertsons NYSE:ACI, has done little to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in its pharmacies. Pharmacists perform the vital work of providing medication and medical advice to our communities, including those that are most vulnerable. Local 727 was shocked to discover the complete lack of proper sanitation by Jewel-Osco in its pharmacies across Chicagoland during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teamsters Local 727, which represents over 500 Osco pharmacists in four counties (including Cook County), has received multiple reports that pharmacies are not being regularly sanitized by an outside professional cleaning company, even in instances when a member of the pharmacy staff tests positive for COVID-19. Pharmacists have reported to the Union that, in the event of a COVID-19 exposure, the pharmacy remains open and the next pharmacist in line is responsible for disinfecting the pharmacy, likely exposing him or herself, as well as customers. Adding insult to injury, unless an employee is deemed by the Company to have had enough direct contact with a Covid-positive employee, Jewel-Osco will not notify all employees that work in the same pharmacy. “The fact that Jewel-Osco is not properly disinfecting after an employee tests positive for COVID-19 is not only dangerous to our pharmacists, it’s dangerous to our communities. Sick people pick up medicine, and if their immune system is already compromised, why is Jewel-Osco further risking their health?” said John Coli, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 727. “When a pharmacist or pharmacy technician tests positive for COVID-19, Jewel-Osco should close the pharmacy until it can be deep cleaned and professionally sanitized,” added Coli.

Albertsons is raking in unprecedented revenue due to COVID 19. According to a recent article in ‘Supermarket News’, “Albertsons more than doubled Wall Street’s earnings-per-share forecast…For the 12-week quarter ended Sept. 12, net sales and other revenue totaled $15.76 billion, up 11.2% from $14.18 billion a year earlier, Albertsons said Tuesday. The Boise, Idaho-based grocer attributed the gain to a 13.8% year-over-year increase in identical sales…”

Instead of using increased profits to protect employees and our community by professionally cleaning and sanitizing pharmacies, Jewel-Osco shifted the burden of cleaning the pharmacy on their already overworked pharmacy staff. Jewel-Osco’s current procedures instructs pharmacists to apply various household cleaning products such as isopropyl alcohol and ammonia-based window cleaner and multi-purpose disinfectant several times throughout their shift. However, Jewel Osco has not allocated additional hours or staff for this work to be completed effectively, and many pharmacists have stated there is no way to keep up with their daily workflow safely and perform these additional cleaning duties. At the same time, pharmacists feel increased pressure by the Company to aggressively promote and administer flu shots and other vaccines. Meanwhile, Jewel-Osco has ended any sort of hazard pay, despite the risks being greater than ever.

While Jewel-Osco profits from a worldwide pandemic, their pharmacists continue to be under appreciated and unprotected by the company. The Union pharmacists’ pleas for the pharmacies to be disinfected by third party vendors, and the company to utilize contact tracing and notify pharmacists about potential exposure after a positive COVID-19 test have fallen on deaf ears. As the second wave of coronavirus pandemic picks up throughout the cold and flu season, Jewel-Osco must do more to protect not only its frontline, essential workers, but also our communities.

Nothing in this article should be read as the union’s waiver of any legal argument, position or grievance(s), or as a waiver of any rights, arguments, or defenses under any contract, collective bargaining agreement, or applicable law. The union does not forfeit its right to make any and all supplemental arguments.


Category: Osco, Union News

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