Emanuel Njoku

Local 400 Member and CVS Pharmacist, Emanuel Njoku

From Union Leader–Facing growing pressure to hit financial targets and working conditions that need improvement, CVS pharmacists in the Washington, DC area have tripled their membership in Local 400 in recent months.

Their goal is to create an environment where they can do their jobs to the best of their abilities, to be treated as the professionals they are, and to ensure that customer service and patient safety always come first.

Many CVS pharmacists report declining job satisfaction. Their responsibilities are increasing but they are not getting the support they need to be able to fulfill them. They have more paperwork to fill out and new tasks, like calling patients one by one. At the same time, they have to meet sales and revenue goals. They are feeling stretched thin and stressed to the point where it can compromise their accuracy. They also feel treated more as assembly line workers than public health professionals.

Emanuel Njoku, a Local 400 member and 18-year CVS pharmacist who currently works at store #0452 in Greenbelt, is one of many member activists working to sign up their coworkers.

“I think in the past, people thought the union is some person who goes to CVS and makes decisions for us,” he said. “Now, we understand that our union is us. We are our union.

“When I talk with other pharmacists, I tell them, ‘If you’re not part of our union, you’re leaving it up to others to determine your pay, your support staff, and other things that pertain to your work and livelihood,’” Njoku explained. “So I ask them, ‘Would you rather have someone else make these decisions for you or do you want to have a voice and be a part of the decision-making process? Don’t you want fair pay across the board, better working conditions and representation in case you’re not treated fairly?’

“They always respond, ‘Yes! Where do I sign?’

“I love being a pharmacist and I love CVS,” Njoku continued. “I remind my colleagues of that and emphasize that joining our union is about working together with CVS to ensure that our working conditions are good and that we are able to take care of our patients to the best of our ability. “I’m excited that our union is revitalized,” he said.

Planning meetings are being held for CVS pharmacists to prepare for upcoming bargaining and to ensure that their concerns will be addressed. The current contract expires in July 2012.