Thursday, February 28, 2008


Teamsters are rallying outside AmerisourceBergen Corp.'s annual shareholder meeting in Philadelphia today accusing the company of unfair labor practices. Workers want the giant medical supplies distribution company to honor the significant sacrifices workers have made to help AmerisourceBergen become one of the most successful medical supply companies in the Northwest.

Teamsters spokesman Galen Munroe in Washington D.C. said the company has used threats and intimidation tactics to demand economic concessions involving workers in Seattle. He said the rally is meant to raise awareness among company shareholders and investors that management's refusal to "bargain in good faith could lead to prolonged work stoppages that could effect their investment," Munroe said.

During ongoing contract negotiations, AmerisourceBergen threatened employees with the closure of a Seattle area facility and utilized illegal tactics to bully workers into backing off efforts to secure a fair contract. In addition, the company erected a chain-link fence around the facility, marched temporary workers through the work site, and sent letters to workers’ homes threatening to replace them in the event of a strike.

The company also presented contract proposals that would impose a discriminatory pay system based on favoritism that would undercut the wage standards set by AmerisourceBergen's competitors. “These proposals would allow AmerisourceBergen to eliminate union members’ jobs, and impose workplace policies that would have a negative impact on the families of long-time employees,” John Williams, Teamsters Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer and director of the Teamsters Warehouse Division said last fall.

Williams added, "Teamsters and AmerisourceBergen customers will be standing up to management and insisting they respect the laws of this country, the well-being of their employees and their customers' need for a dependable distribution network."

Members of the Teamsters walked off the job late last month in a one day strike (see picture) to protest workers’ rights violations at AmerisourceBergen ’s (ABC) Northwest distribution hub.

“The last thing we want is a strike,” said Wil Rance, Local 117 business agent. “We understand that service disruptions put the pharmacies and hospitals that rely on AmerisourceBergen for safe and reliable service in a tenuous position. Management just has not left us with a choice. That is why we called for only a one-day warning strike. The company seems to be more interested in violating the law than protecting the interests of its customers and their patients.”

Leonard Smith, union director of organizing said of the walk out."We've been in negotiations now for almost a year, and the employer has been engaging over that time in numerous unfair labor practices in violation with labor law."

Union News reports the union filed an unfair labor practice charge against AmerisourceBergen with the National Labor Relations Board. The union charged that the company changed working conditions without negotiating first and has refused to meet with workers to negotiate a contract.

"We did find at the conclusion of our investigation merit to some of the charges against the employer," NLRB regional director Richard Ahearn said. "We're in the process now of trying to reach a settlement, and absent that, we would issue a formal complaint."

The board found that AmerisourceBergen refused to continue bargaining unless the union agreed to the wage proposal, which is termed an "improper condition," and that the company changed production standards and shift times on employees without bargaining.

AmerisourceBergen, the third-largest U.S. pharmaceutical distributor behind McKesson Corp. and Cardinal Health, has 11,000 employees nationwide.

The following is from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Teamsters Warn of Possible Work Stoppages, Service Disruptions at AmerisourceBergen

AmerisourceBergen warehouse workers from across the country rallied with hundreds of their fellow Teamsters outside ABC's annual shareholders meeting in Philadelphia today. The protesters sounded a warning to investors about ongoing and illegal workers' rights violations by the pharmaceutical distributor that could result in widespread work stoppages and service disruptions in the coming months.

Last week, Region 19 of the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against ABC for violating federal labor laws protecting workers' rights. The complaint comes on the heels of a recent unfair labor practice strike at ABC's Pacific Northwest distribution hub.

"The last thing we want is widespread work stoppages, but management just continues to back our members into a corner. The company seems to be more interested in bullying its workers than protecting the interests of its customers," said John Williams, Director of the Teamsters Warehouse Division.

Several East Coast distribution hubs are entering contract negotiations in the near future including ABC's newly acquired Bellco facility in New York.

"Early indications show that despite record profits and outrageously high CEO pay and perks, management is seeking draconian cuts from these workers similar to what was experienced at their West Coast distribution hubs," said Williams.

Inside the annual meeting, investors also voiced concerns that ABC's Good Neighbor Pharmacy Network and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), such as Medco, are under increased scrutiny by major union-negotiated health care plans due to the potential for service disruptions.

"AmerisourceBergen management is quickly earning a bad reputation among pharmacy benefit managers, independent pharmacies and union-sponsored health plans as a troubled supplier," said Fred Gegare, Teamsters vice president and chairman of the Central States Health and Welfare Fund. "As a trustee of one of the largest Teamster Health and Welfare plans in the country, I'm outraged that AmerisourceBergen pursues scorched-earth tactics towards workers," Gegare said.

He added that he is convening a nationwide meeting of Teamster health and welfare plan trustees next week to discuss the labor abuses at AmerisourceBergen and decide on further action. "Our trustees will be examining options for ensuring that the pharmaceutical distributors that serve our members both provide reliable, excellent service and respect workers' rights," Gegare said.

The rally comes on the heels of AmerisourceBergen's Chief Executive David Yost reassuring shareholders and Wall Street analysts at the company's December investors meeting that he anticipated no work stoppages in the future.

The Teamsters report that during recent contract negotiations, AmerisourceBergen threatened employees with the closure of the Northwest facility, erected a chain-link fence around the facility, marched temporary workers through the work site, sent letters to workers' homes threatening to replace them in the event of a strike, and fired a shop steward.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

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