Union Demands Safety Be Top Priority as CVS Rolls Out COVID-19 Testing Centers

| June 5, 2020

Three CVS pharmacies in the Chicagoland area represented by Teamsters Local 727 are slated to begin administering COVID-19 tests in early June, further highlighting how pharmacists continue to be essential frontline workers in the fight against the pandemic. Upon receiving notice of CVS’ proposed testing initiative, Local 727 was quick to demand that CVS bargain with the Union over this change prior to its implementation. Although CVS wanted to begin testing at the Union pharmacies in mid-May, the Union refused to be rushed through a process that requires careful and intelligent discussion. Union representative Melissa Senatore insisted that there be sufficient time for the Union to review, in-depth, the materials that CVS had provided following the Union’s extensive information request. Local 727 thoroughly reviewed dozens of documents which included: safety protocols and policies put into place to protect employees from the novel coronavirus, descriptions of available PPE, the company’s amended sick-leave policy, and proposed operating procedure for CVS COVID-19 testing centers.

While Local 727 recognizes that pharmacists are healthcare professionals who regularly administer tests and vaccinations as part of their jobs, protecting the health and well-being of all Teamster brothers and sisters during this global pandemic is a top priority that cannot be taken lightly. After confirming that satisfactory safety protocols were in place, including adequate provision of PPE materials, Local 727 demanded that CVS increase staffing to insure that pharmacies are appropriately staffed given the additional duties that COVID testing would bring. Although hard-working and dedicated to their patients, the pharmacists often find themselves overwhelmed by the amount of tasks CVS expects them to complete – in addition to filling prescriptions and counseling patients in a timely and safe manner – with a limited support staff.  The Union has communicated to CVS many times that understaffing can compromise patient safety and their employees’ well-being. The Union is pleased to share with membership that CVS agreed to provide additional technician hours to all testing-center pharmacies; no pharmacist in a testing-center location should ever have to work without at least one technician by their side. The Union intends to hold CVS to their word, so please let the Union know if you do not have a technician scheduled and are working at a CVS testing center.

The COVID-19 test is self-administered via swab by individuals who meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and who pre-schedule a testing appointment.  CVS committed to the Union that all contact between the pharmacy team and the individual being tested will be over the intercom and through the drawer of the drive-thru window; no part of the testing procedure is ever to occur inside the store.  Once the test is complete, it is placed into an outside receptacle and processed by a third-party lab. Teamsters Local 727 will monitor the roll-out of the testing initiative, and will continue to monitor it, to guarantee the safety of our members to the best of our ability.

“We are extremely proud to know that our CVS pharmacists will play a role in what will hopefully be the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 crisis. Although much is still unknown, what should never be doubted is the Union’s dedication to all of our CVS members and our promise to hold employers accountable for keeping employees safe while on the job,” said John Coli, Jr. Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 727.

Any questions should be directed to Business Representative Melissa Senatore at (847) 696-7500 or [email protected].

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: CVS, PHARMACY, Union News

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