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Jewel-Osco Druggists Reach Deal

CHICAGO -- Union pharmacists at Jewel-Osco, represented by Teamsters Local 714, on Sunday approved a three-year contract with the chain that calls for annual wage increases and no cuts in health care coverage, Crain's Chicago Business reports. The vote was 283 to 58.

Under terms of a contract that expired June 8, pharmacists were receiving an hourly wage in the high $30s, according to the report. The new contract will give pharmacists a $2-an-hour increase this year, $1.85 more per hour in 2004 and $1.50 more per hour in 2005.

The new contract also includes language that allows for the match of wage increases by major competitors, so when a rival pharmacy raises its workers' wages, Osco pharmacists are assured they'll get that new pay rate by the following Sunday.

In addition, the new contract calls for a 25 percent increase in premium pay for overnight pharmacists to $2.50 an hour more, up from $2 an hour more.

Robert Hogan, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 714, said in a statement, "These were not easy negotiations. But in the end, we left the negotiating table with a labor contract that benefits the workers, the company and the community."

A Jewel-Osco spokeswoman told the newspaper the chain was pleased it reached an agreement with the union and that it was able to serve the needs of its customers in an uninterrupted manner.

The two parties have been in negotiations since April, with the union druggists calling for better pay, more benefits for part-timers, and additional contributions to their optical insurance plans.
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