BARRERA_forWeb

RICHARD BARRERA
Secretary-Treasurer

No Pharmacist Left Alone Legislation Moves Forward In Sacramento

UFCW Western States Council has introduced Senate Bill 1442 in the California State Legislature, which would prohibit grocery stores and large drug stores from leaving pharmacists unattended at any point during a shift. The idea for the bill emerged during 2016 negotiations with the major grocery stores.

The number one issue that Pharmacists wanted addressed in that round of negotiations was severe understaffing, including being left alone during significant portions of the week. The employers refused to agree to sensible safety provisions in the contract, so the union moved forward with the legislative route.

Last fall Senator Josh Newman held a hearing in Orange County in which pharmacists talked about safety risks to themselves and to their patients from being left alone. Senator Newman worked with our States Council to introduce legislation which would prohibit this practice. The legislation has since been picked up and authored by Senator Scott Weiner from San Francisco.

On March 14, UFCW Pharmacists from throughout California went to Sacramento to tell their stories to Legislators. Local 135 was represented by Vons Pharmacists Seung Oh and Nancy Arellando. Seung and Nancy were incredibly articulate in explaining to many Legislators that while pharmacists are being required to take on additional responsibilities, including flu shots and administering contraceptives, etc., they are left alone in the pharmacy up to 70 percent of the time during the week. This results in outrageous safety risks such as mistakes in filling prescriptions and incidents of people jumping the counter to steal opioids or other pharmaceuticals.

Seung and Nancy explained that if they need to leave the pharmacy to simply administer a flu shot or counsel a patient in a private room, they often don’t have time to even lock down the pharmacy, exposing drugs to sometimes sophisticated theft rings.

Seung and Nancy, along with their colleagues from other UFCW Locals, were extremely well received by Legislators who wondered aloud how such legislation does not already exist in California and across the country. San Diego legislators Todd Gloria and Ben Hueso took time out of previously scheduled meetings to listen to Seung and Nancy tell their stories.

The bill is making its way through committee hearings and we hope to pass the legislation through the Senate and Assembly and send it to Governor Brown for his signature this year. To keep track of the progress of SB 1442 please go to https://ufcwrx.org/.

Local 135 and pharmacy patients throughout California are lucky to have active and articulate leaders like Nancy and Seung fighting for us.