Will a union save pharmacists?

Here are the realities/obstacles re unionization and affirmative action:

Big employers like SDM have carefully structured themselves as separate corporations with the very purpose of making collective bargaining almost impossible. Each store would have to form its own union.

Government (in Ontario at least) does not want pharmacists to unionize. Having made the “mistake” once of allowing the OMA to represent physicians, government will not repeat this error. Keeping pharmacy fragmented and highly competitive plays to government’s favour and allows it to continually depress funding. Government loves the status quo thank you.

Sure government now funds for some “professional services”, but this is minimal, and more of a sop to distract from hundreds of millions of dollars in reduced funding. Now that all evidence is pointing to the lack of cost effectiveness re MedsChecks, (because of poor quality due to quotas), watch Medscheck disappear soon too.

In addition, as a self -inflicted bonus to government, pharmacy owners (not pharmacists) self stab themselves by discounting (Costco’s $3,89 fee) and the waiving of co-pays, further depressing available funding.

Bottom line is that pharmacy is firmly in the grips of non-pharmacist Big Pharmacy Retail (BPR) whose only business (no surprise) is retailing, and who will always sacrifice pharmacists & pharmacy at the altar of their commercial interests.

The pharmacy associations were bought and paid for by BPR a long time ago. Witness the jubilation of the OPA over recent extension of injections by pharmacists…a technical task few pharmacists really want, but BPR loves.  A recent CHN poll indicates that 54% of pharmacists do not want to do injections, and a further 13% are uncertain.  Yet the OPA has doggedly pursued increased injections for years…for whose benefit?

The regulatory bodies largely spend their days navel gazing and stand in fear of taking on BPR. (let’s just see how the OCP handles this latest Costco transgression involving millions of dollars in illegal rebates). Don’t count on any hard lessons being meted out to Costco.

Academia keeps churning out more pharmacists (now uping the ante with PharmDs) and keeping the professors employed & tenured.

On authority at least one large long established union has recently looked at unioionizing pharmacists and, after researching it thouroughly, has decided not to proceed.

Point being that the only power that pharmacists have is the power within themselves and with their pharmacy degree, and their choice as to what to do with it. Without pharmacists voluntarily providing BPR with their services, it would be game over. Yet we constantly witness fresh young graduates full of excitement and knowledge, graduate and then immediately step into that 12 by 24 cubicle in a food/combo. In 6 months their spirit is broken, and they go home after each 12 hour shift having had no break, and  smelling of barbecued chicken.

If pharmacists really want to change their lives, first they have to seize them and decide to be masters of their own destiny…maybe in pharmacy or maybe in something entirely different . Get an MBA or a law degree or carve out a pharmacy environment that you can control and be satisfied in. Pharmacists have the keys to their own shackles. Be ready to take a chance and then run with it. Pharmacists have it within themselves to shape their own professional lives, but they do have to take that chance and take the road less traveled first

The vested interests in pharmacy count on the natural passivity of pharmacists…always non confrontational, always obeying the rules, always deferring.

This passivity is what these so called “district managers” that BPR employs, count on to enforce their retail systems.   Akin to prison guards, many DMs are high school drop outs who began their retail careers as parcel boys at the local grocery store.

Prison bars do not a prison make. It’s within each and every one of us to break out and set our own paths.  Today is a good day to start.

2 thoughts on “Will a union save pharmacists?

  1. I enjoy reading your thoughts on our profession. Often Pharmacists are isolated. We are not talking about these changing times and how they are affecting us.


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