NLRB: Downey Kaiser Pharmacy Breaks Federal Law 

UFCW Local 324
December 9, 2021

NLRB: Downey Kaiser Pharmacy Breaks Federal Law 
 Essential Workers Call for Removal of Top Management in Response

Buena Park, CA – Kaiser Permanente recently settled a complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after being charged with violating federal labor law at its Central Refill Pharmacy (CRP) and Mail Order Processing Center (MOPC) in Downey. Per the NLRB, Kaiser broke the federal law that protects workers by engaging in surveillance of employees’ union activities after breaching a locked employee file cabinet, and removing and copying union documents.  The settlement agreement between Kaiser, UFCW Local 324, and the NLRB requires Kaiser to post a notice promising not to violate employees’ rights. The notice will be read to workers this week by a representative of the NLRB in the presence of the Director of the CRP and MOPC facility. In response to the violation, essential workers are now calling for Kaiser to replace the top management at its Downey facility.

Approximately 430 pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants, represented by UFCW Local 324 work at the facility and are responsible for filling, packaging, and labeling prescriptions, and handling patient and provider pharmacy calls for Kaiser’s Southern California, Colorado, and Hawaii regions. 

“We’re working as hard as we can, day in and day out, to ensure our patients receive the best care, but it’s hard when we’re faced with so much stress due to poor management decisions,” said Lucy Alcantar, a 32-year Kaiser employee and a lead pharmacy technician at CRP. “Kaiser must take a serious look at the history of instances where workers have raised serious concerns and immediately move to ensure our safety. That begins with removing the top management at this facility and replacing them with someone who values workers’ concerns.” 

These essential pharmacy workers have been issuing complaints with support from UFCW Local 324 to address safety concerns at the facility since the start of the pandemic.  Seventy-nine workers at CRP and MOPC have been reported to have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 2020, and in April 2020, workers walked off the job after management failed to address their safety concerns. On September 24, 2021, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) fined Kaiser Permanente $195,500 for multiple COVID-19-related citations in response to worker complaints. 

“There has been an ongoing issue of serious violations occurring at the Downey Pharmacy,” said Andrea Zinder, President of UFCW Local 324. “The top management at the Downey pharmacy consistently disregards workers’ well-being and continues to put pharmacy workers at risk by undermining our labor partnership and not adhering to basic worker rights and protections. Now that the NLRB has stepped in and agreed there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, Kaiser has the opportunity to honor its partnership with workers and their union and step up to ensure health care workers are protected on the job.”  

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UFCW Local 324 represents approximately 1,000 members working at Kaiser Permanente. UFCW Local 324 represents 20,000 members in grocery, drug, pharmacy, health care, food processing and cannabis in Orange and parts of Los Angeles Counties.