More than 100 inpatient, outpatient and ambulatory pharmacists at Kaiser Hawaii in Honolulu recently joined UNAC/UHCP.
With over 800 members in Hawaii already, the pharmacists decided to build power through AFSCME as they seek more accountability, respect and the resources they need to continue to provide exceptional care to their community.
Supporting their future AFSCME family members, pharmacists from Kaiser in California volunteered to help organize in Hawaii. Facing some of the same issues when they joined AFSCME in 2015, the California-based pharmacists could speak to how a union could help address these problems.
“They wanted a union for all the reasons our other members do, starting with a way to protect their patients – in their case, against ever-growing, unsupportable workloads. They want security, better wages and benefits. They were so pro-union from the beginning of their campaign,” said Denise Duncan, RN, UNAC/UHCP president. “Then they talked to our southern California pharmacists, heard about the journey they’ve traveled, and saw where they need to be. Now that they’re UNAC/UHCP members, they’ve got a path to get there.”
The officers of United Pharmacists of Southern California (UPSC) sent them a congratulatory email, welcoming them to our union:
"We encourage you to stand together and stand strong. You will succeed based on your professionalism, integrity, unity and hard work. We are supporting you, along with 32,000 other UNAC/UHCP members," according to the email.
Jake Elsbernd, a pharmacist at Kaiser Hawaii, thanked his AFSCME family.
“We overcame the fear and made it happen. We couldn’t have done it without everybody’s participation and willingness to take this small step that’s going to turn into a lot of progress for pharmacy in our state,” he said. “Kaiser Hawaii pharmacists finally having a voice is going to make all the difference.”
Only a few weeks before that, UNAC/UHCP celebrated the opening of a Maui office. An open house was held on May Day/Lei Day, and UNAC/UHCP officers and staff from California joined the members of their newest chapter, United Nurses and Health Care Employees of Hawaii, at their new union home.
The newest members of UNAC will soon begin the process of negotiating their first contract by choosing their bargaining team, filling out bargaining surveys and going to the negotiating table.