CVS give employees extra paid sick leave for illness and to care for sick family-COVID19

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Why is CVS not protecting their own employees from COVID-19?

March 14, 2020

To Larry Merlo, CVS CEO,

I am a pharmacy technician at a New York CVS pharmacy. In the recent weeks since COVID- 19 elevated from state emergency to national emergency, CVS management has not updated its employees' health benefits. Our goal is to have updated paid sick leave policies that will ensure workers get paid for sick days and for caring for sick family in the mist of COVID-19. At the very minimum, CVS should provide a crisis rate/hazard pay for workers still reporting to work and have protective gear (gloves, masks) and enough cleaning supplies for employees. 

(Update March 21, 2020- CVS is doing the legal bare minimum for its employees. CVS is providing paid leave for up to 14 days when an employee is tested positive OR have family that is tested positive. As well all know, testing kits are scarce and only individuals with high priority may be permitted to test. Everyone else that is ill but not "high priority" should self isolate as recommended by CDC. Which means that for any CVS employees who fall ill during this time, you'll have to stay home with NO pay- UNLESS you are positive for COVID. Its catch 22.) 

We are petitioning to get updated paid sick day policies so we can self quarantine as needed. I have a cold(?) and history of COPD, but I am still reporting to work because I have a family to feed. My symptoms are not severe enough to be approved for COVID testing, but at this point, I have no idea if I am carrier and spreader of COVID19. CVS still has not provided PPE to their employees therefore, I am interacting with patients, customers and colleagues with no protection. 

Here is a timeline of some major retailers' move to protect their employees:

  • March 8, 2020- REI has modified its employee’s paid time off policy to make sure their workers (including hourly paid workers) are being paid for missing work due to personal illness OR time off to take care of family.
  • March 12, 2020- Lululemon has reduced store front hours from 12PM-6PM. However, employees will “still receive pay for ALL hours that they have been scheduled to work”.
  • March 14, 2020- Apple store has announced that they are closing all of their retail stores until March 27 to “minimize risk of the virus’ transmission”. Their employees, like CVS employees, cannot work from home, but are paid for the duration of its closure.
  • March 17, 2020- Trader Joe's has set up bonus pay for their employees.
  • March 19, 2020- Walgreens will be shortening store and pharmacy hours. 
  • March 19, 2020- Walmart is paying out bonuses to US hourly employees and hiring 150,000 workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • March 22, 2020- Target is paying their employees an extra $2 per hour hazard pay. Plus all employees over 60 years old, or is pregnant OR has pre existing health conditions will be paid up to 30 days of sick leave. Congrats on their petition victory!

CVS pharmacies, are at the forefront of the virus, along with other pharmacies, clinic and hospitals- so its understandable that we cannot be closed. We can see that CVS Pharmacy is doing a great job of continued service to patients and the public and will be holding COVID-19 test centers in its parking lots in the following week, but what is CVS doing to protect us, their workers?

CVS pharmacies do not have adequate supply of hand sanitizers OR alcohol for their own employees to use. There is no way technicians can wash their hands after every transaction. Yet, we use our same dirty hands to fill patient’s prescriptions. There are barely any latex/ nitrile gloves left to go around for employees to use as a form of protection. We handle cash transactions, medications and often have physical contact with customers who hand us their cash and items for purchase.

No surgical masks were kept for employees to use nor are left for us- masks are said to be ineffective against the virus- but for peace of mind, many citizens, including CVS workers would still like to use them. There are no Lysol wipes/alcohol left for workers to disinfect the phones, our keyboards, the scanners, touchscreens... etc. In the pharmacy, multiple techs use the same phone to answer calls- now think of all the bacteria from ears, hands and saliva that are collecting on the handset. We also share the registers amongst other employees in the pharmacy- how many times are we able to disinfect the touch screens between every cashiers transaction? 

Most importantly, CVS still has not updated employees’ paid sick leaves in this time of an emergency. We are afraid to call out of work in fear that there will be retaliation: being fired and/or being written up. But we're anxious about commuting to work, scared of catching the virus from patients at work, and even more worried of passing the virus to our families.

We cannot afford to miss work but feel obligated to stay home to protect our children and parents. 

Why isn’t CVS offering any extra sick days at this time?

Why isn't CVS shortening hours to reduce worker’s risk of infection?

Why isn't CVS keeping stock of basic protective gear for workers to use? (gloves, masks, wipes, alcohol, disinfectants...) 

Why do we, as workers, have to panic amongst ourselves until someone (like me) has finally had the last straw to type up this letter to ask these questions for all of us?? 

Why is CVS sending COVID-19 update emails to its customers but no emails are being sent to update their own employees? Really seem like the wellness of their own employees is not a priority. 

CVS corporate/Larry Merlo, please give us answers and updates!