Study finds 18% of staff R.Ph.s ready to join union

May 15, 2005

If a vote were held tomorrow on whether to unionize their workplace, 18% of nonunion staff pharmacists would say Yes, according to a six-state study by researchers at Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy.

If a vote were held tomorrow on whether to unionize their workplace, 18% of nonunion staff pharmacists would say Yes, according to a six-state study by researchers at Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy.

Even though only 6% to 8% of pharmacists actually carry union cards, there was interest in joining the ranks among 202 of the 1,123 nonunion staff pharmacists who responded to the survey in late 2003. The highest interest was found among chain pharmacists-26% of them said they would vote to unionize. The data were part of a biennial pharmacist compensation study conducted in Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

Florida, where less than 2% of pharmacists are unionized, was a hotbed of pro-union sentiment, according to lead author, David Zgarrick, R.Ph., Ph.D., professor, department of pharmacy practice, and vice chair, community pharmacy residency programs. "Florida blew us away because 39% of nonunion staff pharmacists would vote to join a union," he said. "Florida is being hit by a demographic time bomb. Lots of seniors are getting lots of prescriptions filled. That creates a pharmacist workload time bomb."

The pro-union pharmacists also tended to work longer hours: 39 hours compared with the 34 worked by those who wouldn't join a union. They were also less likely to get professional benefits, such as tuition reimbursement, paid association dues, or stipends to attend meetings. One thing that wasn't different was compensation.

"These pharmacists were looking to unionize not because they're not making as much money, but because they're interested in working conditions," said Zgarrick.