Lets unionize… or maybe not.

As I was reading a drunken rant by The Angriest Pharmacist about unions, I started to think as to why haven’t pharmacists formed a huge union to fight the evil employers about working conditions, etc.  I know that the topic has been brought up before, but yet a union doesn’t exist.  I came to a few conclusions as to our profession:

  • Pharmacists who bitch about their load, how many Rx’s they have to do, their hours, just working conditions in general (ie: not the patients like I bitch about) play the “I am/my position is in demand, so I should get work conditions of X”  Thats fine and good, but if you’re in so much demand, go and work for someone who doesn’t put you through such a shitty work environment.  I mean that’s pretty simple isn’t it?  Eventually when NOBODY wants to work for Evil Corporation X, maybe they will give you more techs/shorter hours/pee breaks/lunch, etc.  Oh, Evil Corporation gives benefits/pay of Y above everyone else, never mind.
  • Pharmacists (like their Doctor counterparts) are alpha creatures.  We are the keepers of the castle of pharmacy, and we all have an opinion.  A union of Chiefs does no good if there are no Indians.
  • Pharmacy is different depending on what chain/independent/hospital you work for.  Maybe your working conditions are fine (like mine).  A union won’t work if only the chain pharmacists join because some peeps who work for Target and the grocery stores are happy with their working conditions.  Is this union going to be the “High Volume Chain Pharmacist Union?”  Doesn’t work that way.  To be effective everyone needs in.
  • A pharmacy union would need mandatory enrollment for all pharmacists.  Like long-shoreman, electricians, etc we would need everyone to be signed up and pay dues into this union.  We all know how much we love to be forced into things, let alone forced into things where we need to pay money.

Now lets take things into perspective.  Say all the pharmacists in the nation joined this uber powerful union.  We’ll call it the American Pharmacists Union (APhU).  Now a bunch of CVS pharmacists go to the union for help because CVS is evil and they treat their employees bad (or whatever they whine about this month).  The union leader, to show CVS that the APhU means business, calls for a strike.  Do you really think that pharmacists would listen to that?  Realistically, do you really think you’d follow the orders from some union leader (who probably has not worked a day of retail in his life, but is a damn good bullshitter) as to when you can and cannot go to work?  What if you work for a CVS that doesn’t treat its pharmacists like shit, are you going to take one (and make your patients take one) for the team for a bunch of “woe is me, 100 with only me and my tech!” whiners in a town you’ve never heard of before? Well, you’d have to.

Now APhA and the associations should be stepping up to fight bad working conditions, but then they’d have to give up the revenue for that full page add from CVS on Page 58 in the August Pharmacy Today (and a small Walmart ad on page 60).  Hell, if I didn’t know anything about pharmacy and was looking at Pharmacy Today, I would think pharmacy involves sitting smiling in front of a computer screen, and getting handed awards while shaking hands and smiling all day.  This is between the page after page of drug-company ads for another “Me Too” formulation of an already shit product or Savella, a drug made to treat a made-up condition.  Where are the crackheads yelling at you? Where are the pictures of some strung out druggie pointing her finger at you while shouting at the tops of her lungs? The happy old white people in the magazines dont exist in real life. Where are the cow-eyes and looks of “duh” or that dirty plastic produce baggy full of scummy bottles?

So we have associations for every aspect of pharmacy, why are they not taking care of the work condition problem?