Thousands of workers in CVS stores through California demands better pay, increased safety standards and improvements in health care and more safety for workers in negotiating new union contracts.
The demands followed the drug chain's report of record profits over the past 18 months, in part due to keeping stores open throughout the pandemic and offer of Covid-19 tests and vaccines in store. CVS reported a profit of over $ 7 billion in 2020 and displayed a profit of $ 2.8 billion in the second quarter of 2021. CVS is ranked the eighth largest retailer in the United States based on 2020 sales and its parent company, CVS Health, is fourth largest company in the United States by revenue .
CVS a offered a salary inc. an increase of only 5 cents an hour for most workers in contract negotiations.
"We made over $ 7 billion in profit for this business in 2020. They did it on our backs. We are the ones who took the risks, but they only want to offer us pennies and pennies for a raise, to give us inferior health care and not to offer us security offers to protect us ", said Margaret Holguin, a CVS employee in Los Angeles. Angeles and member of the union bargaining committee.
Over 6,700 CVS workers represented by UFCW Locals 5, 135, 324, 770, 1164, 1428 and 1442 have signed a petition supporting the demands as Local 770 is negotiating new contracts with CVS for several months. Over 12,000 CVS employees are represented by United Food and Commercial Workers in the United States, with Local 770 representing approximately 2,600 CVS employees in Southern California.
Jeff Hall, a shift supervisor at a CVS store in Los Angeles, said CVS employees have worked throughout the pandemic and have constantly struggled with understaffing, which has made it difficult to enforce coronavirus safety protocols.
"It will be me and a cashier every day, and we have no way of closing the door to make sure people are wearing masks, "Hall said." We have at least 10 to 15 encounters every day. People without masks come to CVS because 'they know there is nothing we can do. "
He has described cases where he has been physically assaulted by angry customers who refuse to wear masks, and said the understaffing has made the store a target for anti-masks as other grocery and retail stores have enough employees to enforce the protocols.
Hall also criticized the salary increases offered by CVS offered to workers who endured the risks and poor working conditions caused by Covid-19, and said full-time employees face reductions in their working hours from 40 hours to 30 hours per week, which can lead to a loss of workdevastating evenus.
"The first thing they want to do is cut everyone's pay by a quarter, then they want to offer a nickel raise and say, 'we' take care of our workers. '"said Hall." Workers could not pay their rent, shop for groceries, take care of their children, or fill up with gas. in their car. If someone loses a quarter of their salary, how are they supposed to make adjustments and survive? "
Jennifer Reyes, another CVS employee in Los Angeles and member of the bargaining committee, said the health insurance CVS offers to employees is unaffordable, even though the company owns Aetna, one of the biggest companies health insurance in the United States.
“They ownthe company, so they should be able to implement a plan that is more affordable for their employees, ”said Reyes, who noted the closure of his store in late 2020 due to an outbreak of coronavirus cases among staff and that there have been recent cases among workers in his store. "We are very busy because of people going out.
The understaffing at CVS stores has raised concerns about safety, said Reyes. She said she dealt with angry customers who refused to wear masks regularly and that her store was near a Rite Aid store where an employee was recently murdered during a robbery.
"The workers who work at CVS don't make a lot of money. They've been through the pandemic, workingall the time as essential workers, putting themselves in danger, and there has been an increase in violence in the shops, ”said Kathy Finn, secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 770. "They want better wages, they want more hours, more staff, because despite all the extra work they do, because they have done Covid tests and vaccinations on top of all their work. regular, they never have enough staff. "
A CVS spokesperson said in an email:" The health and safety of our colleagues is a top priority. We regularly review our workplace policies and practices to comply with all applicable federal and state workplace safety regulations and to provide a safe work environment for our employees. We are currently negotiating a collective agreement with UFCW Local 770 in California and thesafety at work is a subject under discussion. CVS Pharmacy has had a long and productive relationship with UFCW Local 770 and we look forward to finalizing a new agreement. "