Pharmacist Work Centers Lead to Rest Periods and Self-Respect?

Jp Enlarged

Sunday’s The New York Times.  A cover story (Below the fold) in the Business Section called A Union in Spirit.  You can find the entire article at this link.  It will be worth your time.  It appears that immigrant contraction workers have more sense than pharmacists.  They talk among themselves, loosely organize and get results.

Click here. ..

The tease read: Worker centers bring together immigrants where traditional labor hasn’t.  The results?  Back Pay, rest periods and self-respect.

This article got my attention because there are issues that pharmacists struggle with every day.  Primary among them are Rest Periods and Self-Respect.  The difference between a group of around a quarter million highly trained medical professionals and a group of 22 million immigrant workers (many of them not documented) is that the professionals do not talk to each other and the immigrants do.

The Workers Defense Project, founded in 2002, has emerged as one of the nation’s most creative organizations for immigrant workers.  Its focus is the Texas construction industry, which employs more than 600,000 workers, about half of whom, several studies suggest, are unauthorized immigrants.  Having lived in Galveston, Texas for seven years, I can attest that the great majority of construction workers are immigrants.   They are hard workers and do a good job.  Observing a roofing job always astounded me.  They worked all day in the sun, from sun up to sundown, and they never stopped singing.

Do we need a Pharmacist’s Defense Project?  The APhA is not interested.  The NCPA won’t flip.   The Pharmacy Alliance meets the definition, but the numbers needed to exact change aren’t there…. Yet, dare I say that?  I will say this:  If the APhA had the goals that The Pharmacy Alliance proposes (even as a side business) you would see a sea change in how pharmacists are treated by companies that run pharmacies.

The point is that pharmacists do not talk.  A few weeks ago, I met Mark Hill (a pharmacist who practices in Bradenton, Florida) at the Einstein Brothers Bagels Coffee Shop on the Tamiami Trail.  Mark treated me to a maple scone and a terrific cup of dark roast Joe.  We talked for over an hour.  It was very clear to me that if four pharmacists met the next time, then eight, then maybe sixteen, it would be time for Rock ‘n Roll.  You cannot get sixteen people, intelligent and pushed to the edge, together and not get something going.

Pharmacists are so pissed off that any group more than one will start the avalanche.

Why isn’t it happening?  What happened to the local pharmacy groups?  Around 1965, I attended a meeting of the Ashtabula County Pharmacists Group.  A major Pharma company hosted.  They bought drinks and a steak dinner at a very nice restaurant.  They didn’t even try to talk us into anything.  It was a perfect opportunity for the group to talk over our gripes and complaints.  But, there were no chain drug stores in NE Ohio.  No one had the kind of complaints that we have in 2013.

I believe that pharmacists must start talking.  We are not competitors.  That is what the companies want us to think.  We are colleagues.   Colleagues can network and start getting things done.  Competitors cannot.

Is there hope for us?




  1. Mark Hill  •  Aug 12, 2013 @11:07 pm

    I really enjoyed the coffee and conversation with you a few weeks ago at Einstein’s. Through the years I’ve always looked forward to your columns in Drug Topics because I felt like you understood how it was in the real world. That helped me get through some long years! When I found out you were moving close to Bradenton, I took a chance that you might like to meet a faithful reader and chat a little while, and you did! I enjoyed the visit so much. You’re right that pharmacist don’t talk to each other enough. And that’s a shame. I think many of us feel alone and misunderstood. Not talking to each other in a casual relaxed way only makes that isolation worse. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that there isn’t much I can do to change my profession for the better. I think most pharmacist feel the same ways and that makes me sad. But it doesn’t mean we can’t change anything. Even a small change can have a significant impact on our daily practice. I decided to change a few things in my daily practice after our meeting, and it made my day more plesant and meaningful to my patients. I was supposed to call a few of my pharmacist friends and schedule another meeting with you, but I haven’t done it yet. Sadly,I don’t feel like I know too many pharmacist who share my ideas and dreams, and whose fault is that? Mine. And that’s exactly what you’re talking about. Isolated, but uncomfortable reaching out to colleagues. I’ll get busy this week and see if I can find a few who might be interested in some professional commisery and a good cup of Joe. I worked for a company for many years that had unions in the company but not in the pharmacy department. My experience as a close observer of union policies left me skeptical of them, but I agree with you that a “guild” or professional association would be of great benefit to all concerned. I’ll email you in a few days with some dates and times when we can meet again. Visiting with you over a cup of coffee and sharing some heartaches was good for me. I’m sure it would be good for others too!

  2. RalPh  •  Aug 17, 2013 @5:55 pm

    We’re too afraid to even speak up to a grocery manager, due largely to this nontalking atmosphere.

    It’s sad. We all got an email to participate in the second annual Oregon pharmacists survey. NO ONE I KNOW has responded to it. It took like 10 minutes. Two years ago, we had very small turnout of answering the survey, yet it led to changes in break and lunch rules.

    It’s like pharmacists have been so cowed into a corner with an attitude of “I just have to get by!” that they refuse to look and react together as colleagues.

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