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Prevalence of and interest in unionization among staff pharmacists

Elsevier Inc.
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2006.04.002
  • Unionization
  • Staff Pharmacists
  • Work Activities
  • Working Conditions
  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Pharmacology


Abstract Background Although the propensity for staff pharmacists to join a labor union has never been high, conditions in the profession and workplace have changed over the last decade. Some of these changes may result in staff pharmacists joining a labor union, as well as increased interest in staff pharmacists who are currently not union members to join. Objectives The objectives of this study were to (1) assess the degree of union membership among staff pharmacists in 6 states, (2) compare the practice settings, work activities and conditions, compensation, and demographic characteristics between union and nonunion staff pharmacists, (3) assess the level of interest in joining a union among nonunion staff pharmacists, and (4) compare the practice settings, work activities and working conditions, wages and benefits, and demographic characteristics between nonunion staff pharmacists interested in joining a union and nonunion staff pharmacists who were not interested in joining a union. Methods A biennial pharmacist compensation study was conducted in 6 states (Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Tennessee, Wisconsin) in late 2003. Randomly selected pharmacists were mailed a self-administered questionnaire asking about their practice setting, work activities and conditions, wages and benefits, and demographic characteristics. Respondents were also asked to indicate current membership in a union and, if not a member, their desire to unionize their workplace. Results Compensation and unionization data were provided by 2,180 respondents (27% usable response rate), of which 1,226 (56%) were staff pharmacists. Eight percent of the staff pharmacists were union members, whereas 18% of nonunion members would vote to unionize their workplace. There were few statistically significant differences between union and nonunion staff pharmacists regarding work activities, working conditions, and hourly wages. However, the benefits provided to union staff pharmacists differed from those provided to nonunion staff pharmacists in several ways. Union staff pharmacists were younger than their nonunion counterparts (40.9 vs 44.5 years, P = .01), yet had worked for their current employers a longer time (11.1 vs 7.3 years, P = .03). Nonunion staff pharmacists interested in joining a union differed from those who would not by practice location and setting, working conditions, and benefits. Conclusions Although the union membership rate among staff pharmacists is relatively low, there are geographic and practice areas where membership rates are higher. Differences in work activities, working conditions, wages, and benefits were noted between union and nonunion staff pharmacists as well as between those who would join a union and those who would not. These differences merit further investigation, especially with respect to evaluating the effectiveness of unions and identifying factors that may lead nonunionized staff pharmacists to join a union.

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