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On the picket line

July 22, 2005 | Page 15

Walgreens
By Glenn Allen

CHICAGO--Some 1,200 Walgreens pharmacists in greater Chicago and Northwestern Indiana went on strike July 6.

Their demands center on the pace of work and adequate break time. Walgreens is also demanding an open shop and an end to automatic union dues deduction--measures that would effectively break the union, the National Pharmacists Association (NPhA), which has represented Walgreens pharmacists since 1968.

Prior to the union, pharmacists worked up to 12-hour shifts without overtime pay. Pharmacists would be frequently transferred. Many of these conditions still exist at nonunion pharmacies--and Walgreens open attempt to break the union would lead to a rapid decline in work conditions.

Already, the pace of work for Walgreens pharmacists has increased steadily in recent years. One in five Walgreens pharmacists fill more than 20 prescriptions per hour, in addition to counseling patients and dealing with insurance problems. "The bottom line is that many pharmacists are too rushed to make sure patients go home with the right prescription," said Chuck Sauer, the union's executive director. "We're not willing to put up with that level of risk. Walgreens seems to be."

The NPhA is demanding increased staffing, union input into staffing levels, posted break times and health coverage for pharmacists working at least 24 hours per week.

Although the last company offer included a significant pay increase, management has refused to move on staffing levels or break time. Pharmacies are being kept open on reduced hours, staffed by pharmacy managers who are not represented by the NPhA as well as some scab pharmacists.

The outcome of this strike will affect wages and working conditions for Walgreens nationally and for all pharmacists in the area.

Honda
By Jean Whittlesey

BERKELEY, Calif.--Workers at Berkeley Honda went on strike June 1, when the dealership franchise was sold to new owner Tim Beinke.

Beinke hired the union-busting law firm Littler Mendelson and refused to honor two union contracts that expired June 30. Mechanics from International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local 1546 and drivers and service workers in Teamsters Local 78 were forced to reapply for their jobs. Just over half of the 25 employees were rehired at $12 per hour; previously workers made $28. Management also wants workers to wait an additional five to 10 years to retire under a proposed 401(k) plan.

John McGlinchy, a mechanic who was rehired and walked out after 9 years on the job, said, "It takes 10 years to become good at fixing cars. People don't know you need to buy $20 to 30,000 worth of tools to be a mechanic here. They're hiring people right out of trade school. I don't object to someone getting a job but not by getting rid of people who have been here 20 years."

Supporters are asked to join the picket line Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., not to patronize Berkeley Honda, and call management at 510-843-3704.

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