Brooklyn CVS Workers Demand First Contract

Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW members at the CVS located at 1070 Flatbush Avenue, in Brooklyn, NY held a community rally to call upon CVS to negotiate a fair and equitable contract for their Brooklyn workers. The Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW members there have been in negotiations for their first contract since March 2017, but the company has repeatedly rejected reasonable proposals. The workers and community members were also joined by New York City Public Advocate Letitia James and a representative from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ office. 

This CVS in Brooklyn is the first unionized CVS store on the East Coast and workers there voted to join Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW in August of 2015. The company initially attempted to overturn the results from the union election but the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overruled the appeal and recognized Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW as the workers’ bargaining representative last year.

Since then, Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW along with a committee of workers at CVS, have attempted to negotiate a contract with the company. Currently, there are a few thousand CVS employees on the West Coast, including California, who are also union members of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW). The contracts in California provide a number of benefits and workplace protections for both full and part-time workers including, living wages, health benefits, a retirement plan, and paid time off. CVS rejected Local 338’s RWDSU/UFCW initial proposal for a union contract that is similar to what union members on the West Coast receive, instead the company is insisting on keeping the workers at the Flatbush Avenue location at lower pay scales and benefit levels.

“For almost 14 years, I’ve worked hard for CVS but never felt truly valued by the company, which is why my coworkers and I voted to join Local 338,” said Adrian Caddle, Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW member working at CVS in Flatbush, Brooklyn. “When I learned that there were union members working at CVS on the West Coast, I was glad to hear about the guaranteed wage increases in their contracts that weren’t based on store location or individualized reviews. But there hasn’t been any relief because CVS doesn’t take us or our requests seriously. I am going to be in this fight with my coworkers until we are treated equally as other CVS workers and to make sure that everyone who comes after us gets what they deserve.”

“I took a position with CVS because I saw an opportunity to advance with the company. Unfortunately in the three and half years that I’ve worked at the store in Flatbush, I’ve seen that this isn’t the case even as business continues to grow,” said Debbie Henry-Haughton, Local 338 RWSDSU/UFCW member working at CVS in Flatbush, Brooklyn. “I voted to join Local 338  because I saw the value of having a voice at work and I intend to continue to use my voice. My coworkers and I work hard and we have earned the right to be treated fairly.”

“We are extremely disappointed and frustrated that CVS has shown a total disregard for the men and women working at the CVS in Flatbush from the time that these workers voted to unionize,” said John R. Durso, President of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. “There has been a precedent set by UFCW Locals on the West Coast for a strong union contract that provides workers at those CVS stores with living wages, paid time off and a number of other benefits that the company is denying the workers in Flatbush. This has left us to ask why California and Oregon but not New York? These hardworking men and women also live in a high cost area and are no less deserving of the opportunity to provide for their families.”

“CVS workers in Brooklyn need dignity and respect on the job – and we won’t back down till they get it,” said David Mertz, NYC Director of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “Just because workers live in different states doesn’t mean they should be treated any differently. CVS’s utter refusal to even hear the needs of our members is disgraceful and they should be ashamed.”

“The workers at CVS deserve to have their voices heard. It’s been almost three years since these workers engaged in the democratic process and voted for fair representation by Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW,” stated New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO President Vincent Alvarez. “When workers come together and demand fair treatment and respect on the job in a democratic way, management must pay heed and give them the contract they deserve.”