What is The Pharmacy Guild?

We are a movement of pharmacy professionals, including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, interns, and residents, taking action to protect our patients and advance our professional interests. The Pharmacy Guild gives all of us a professional platform and organizational support to unionize our workplaces, while advocating for policy changes nationally to protect our patients and our profession.

Who started The Pharmacy Guild?

After a series of self-organized walkouts and protests, many pharmacy professionals started talking seriously about building a national union. It was their grassroots organizing that inspired popular social media influencers The Accidental Pharmacist, #PizzaIsNotWorking, and #RxComedy to come together with the IAM Healthcare union to launch The Pharmacy Guild. We did our research on different unions and chose to work with IAM Healthcare because of their commitment to our cause and their willingness to invest in our movement.

What is IAM Healthcare?

IAM Healthcare is a specialized department of health care professionals within the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), a highly respected union that is nearly 600,000 strong across the US and Canada. IAM Healthcare represents more than 10,000 health care professionals, including pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, at hospitals, nursing homes, VA health centers, and other healthcare facilities and programs.

Who else is represented by IAM

IAM has more than 4,500 contracts covering hundreds of thousands of skilled employees in hospitals and nursing homes, public and community services, airlines and railroads, manufacturing and automotive, and other industries. IAM has an excellent reputation for winning strong union contracts and can provide the scale, influence, and resources necessary to help us unionize.

If I fill out the interest form, how do I know you will keep it confidential and not share information with my employer?

We keep all contacts confidential. Our parent union, the IAM, was founded in 1888 and has a reputation as one of the most respected and effective unions in the U.S. and Canada. The IAM Union has hundreds of thousands of members and deals with some of the largest corporations in the world. This would not be possible without a commitment to discretion and confidentiality in new organizing. The Pharmacy Guild is part of this tradition and operates on the same principles.


What is the process of organizing a union?

Organizing is a democratic process that starts when employees who want to unionize sign authorization cards. Once a majority of eligible employees sign, our union will file these cards with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a federal agency tasked with overseeing labor law and labor relations. At that point, your employer will have the option of voluntarily recognizing your union. If they choose not to, the NLRB will schedule an election in which all employees in the potential bargaining unit are eligible to vote for union representation.

Can we unionize across our entire industry, instead of store-by-store?

While we aim to organize pharmacy professionals across all major employers, unionizing necessarily starts at the workplace level among people who share common bonds and daily struggles. When you and your coworkers unite to demand better for your patients and your profession, you’re contributing to a broader movement to unionize the industry. If you work for a company that is organized into districts or regions, talk to one of our professional union organizers about including neighboring stores in your organizing effort.

My store only has a few pharmacists and technicians. Is it worth unionizing?

Yes, whether you work at CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, a supermarket, or a regional pharmacy chain, most stores only have a few pharmacy staff. This is the reality of our industry everywhere. The way that we will gain a voice in our workplaces and real influence in our industry is by unionizing our own stores and then helping pharmacy staff at neighboring stores unionize. A professional union organizer can assist you in developing a plan to organize other stores in your district or region.

Can pharmacy staff in other types of workplaces, like hospitals and nursing homes, unionize with The Pharmacy Guild?

Yes! If you are interested in organizing your workplace, please reach out to one of our professional union organizers at [email protected]. In acute care hospitals, the laws are different, so there may be some cases where pharmacy staff must organize in the same bargaining unit with other types of health care professionals. IAM Healthcare staff are experienced with these situations and can help you navigate them successfully.

Is it legal for my employer to fire or discipline me for participating in union organizing efforts?

No, your union organizing activities are a form of protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Employers who retaliate are held accountable by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is the federal agency responsible for enforcing the NLRA. Even though it’s illegal for employers to retaliate for union organizing, it’s best to keep a low profile until you are ready to file for your union election. The best approach is to work with a professional union organizer who will help you navigate this process.


When I sign a union authorization card or petition, will it be submitted to my employer?

No! Your employer is forbidden by law from asking if you signed an “A card.” The cards are a necessary show of democratic support for the NLRB to move forward with the election and certification process.

If I sign an authorization card, does this obligate me to vote for the union?

No. We hope, of course, that our fellow pharmacy professionals will vote for The Pharmacy Guild, whether or not they signed an authorization card, but you are free to vote as you choose.

I want to do this! How can I get a hold of some union authorization cards to sign with my coworkers?

Reach out to a professional union organizer at The Pharmacy Guild by emailing [email protected]. They will set up a meeting with you to put together an organizing plan. Once a majority of your coworkers are on-board, then you will start signing “A-cards,” which will be provided to you by your union organizer.


How can unionizing improve staffing and workload?

Unionizing gives you the right to negotiate with your employer over a wide range of issues, including compensation, hours of work, and your working conditions. A union contract can include specific staffing levels that your employer is required to maintain and/or standards to limit excessive workload. In addition to negotiating for these protections in your union contract, joining The Pharmacy Guild will also help to build the movement for state and national legislation for safe staffing in pharmacies.

If we like the way some things are now, will we have to change them if we unionize?

No, on the contrary, filing a petition to unionize affords “status quo” protections, which means your employer won’t be allowed to make policy changes without first negotiating with pharmacy professionals. With a union, you negotiate UP from current wages, benefits, and working conditions. Without a union, your employer can unilaterally change policies, even against the wishes of your Pharmacy Manager.

Will unionizing change our relationship with our supervisor?

It doesn’t have to. It depends on what your relationship is and what you want it to be. If you have a great Pharmacy Manager who takes your concerns seriously, your union can be an additional way to collaborate with them to get the resources you need from corporate. On the other hand, if you have a supervisor who is not providing the support you and your coworkers need, unionizing can help to create greater accountability to employees.


What is a union contract?

A collective bargaining agreement or “union contract” is a document that is binding by law. It is negotiated with your employer and provides for, among other things, wages, benefits, hours and working conditions.

After we win union representation, does our employer have to negotiate with us?

Yes, Federal Law requires that employers “negotiate in good faith.” While some employers try to circumvent the law, IAM Healthcare has a remarkably good record of successfully helping employees achieve a first contract. Our union professional representatives will bring this same knowledge and skill to the table when they help us to negotiate contracts for The Pharmacy Guild.

Who writes the contract?

We all do. All represented pharmacy employees will contribute their ideas for contract proposals. Then your bargaining committee of peers drafts contract proposals with the help of professional union staff. Once priorities are established, negotiations start. Designated employer representatives sit on one side of the table. On the other side, your bargaining committee and union staff will lead negotiations.

What can we negotiate?

Areas where there is usually room for improvement include, but are not limited to: wages and inflation protection, employer-paid health insurance for employees and their dependents, effective grievance procedures, job security, seniority provisions, additional paid holidays, paid sick leave, improved vacations, and work rules that spell out your rights on the job.


Will there be membership dues to join The Pharmacy Guild?

Yes, but only once you have secured your first union contract. For union dues to be deducted, several things will have to happen first, including formal recognition of your union and contract negotiations with your employer. Once contract negotiations are complete, you will have an opportunity to become a union member and vote on your union contract. Once your contract is approved and goes into effect – including negotiated raises and improvements in working conditions – you will be eligible to start paying dues.

What do dues pay for?

A portion of dues pays the salaries of professional union staff who assist with negotiations. The largest portion pays for rent of office space and equipment, representation, legal fees, grievance and arbitration fees, office supplies, printing costs, transportation, strike fund benefits, etc.