Express Scripts and the PC(USA)
More on Express
Scripts vs. its labor union
In the Fall
2010 issue of Network News we reported on the SEIU
Healthcare Pennsylvania challenges to a plan by Express Scripts
(which handles prescription orders for the Presbyterian Board of
Pensions, among others) to close its facility of Bensalem,
Pennsylvania. Their plan was to move that work to a non-union
plant in the St. Louis area.
We were happy to report on our website in
December that members of the union in Bensalem had voted
overwhelmingly to approve a settlement that will preserve
approximately 400 jobs at the Street Road facility, reversing
the Company’s announcement of plans to shutter all of its
Bensalem operations. It also provides a substantial severance
package to approximately 500 workers facing layoff as a result
of the closure of the Marshall Lane facility and some downsizing
at Street Road. (Click here for
more on the struggle of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania to gain
just treatment from Express Scripts.)
PVJ member Dennis Maher, of Lake Luzerne, NY,
provides the latest update:
Here is a recent follow up story on Express Scripts:
Earlier we learned that Express Scripts was
consolidating its operations in the St. Louis area where its
employees are not unionized. This article describes company
celebrations for many millions of dollars of state and local tax
incentives to help them expand. Expansion includes more layoffs
and moving an undisclosed number of jobs perhaps to India or the
Workers at Bensalem settled in December with
good results, ONLY because they were unionized. I raised the
labor issues at Bensalem with the Board of Pensions in November
and received this answer:
|Dear Dr. Maher,
Thank you for your recent email
regarding Express Scripts. The Board of Pensions of
the PCUSA has no comment.
Please do not hesitate to contact
us if you have any further questions.
Johnson, Mary [unsigned]
So the PCUSA has no comment about labor issues
with its contractor for prescription drugs. Also, the PCUSA
nowhere has any comment that I can find on the labor issues in
Wisconsin and other states, where collective bargaining itself
[NOTE from your WebWeaver: Since Dr.
Miller sent this note, we are glad to note that Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons has
written a letter to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, urging
him to call off a plan to balance the state budget in part
by de-unionizing state workers.
I am thinking how far we have come since the
days when social consciousness was institutionalized in the late
’60s and early ’70s. Few today are interested in witness, but
only in new gimmicks to save a church that may be declining
because it has little integrity in its witness.
Lake Luzerne NY
Express Scripts workers
ratify settlement agreement maintaining Bensalem facility and
saving 400 jobs
company’s plan to shutter all Bensalem operations
Bensalem, PA – December 10, 2010 – Workers at
Express Scripts, Inc. facilities in Bensalem, PA – members of
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania – voted overwhelmingly
yesterday and today to ratify a settlement agreement that will
preserve approximately 400 jobs at the Street Road facility,
reversing the Company’s announcement of plans to shutter all of
its Bensalem operations.
In addition to maintaining most of the
company’s workforce at the Street Road facility in Bensalem, the
settlement provides a substantial severance package to
approximately 500 workers facing layoff as a result of the
closure of the Marshall Lane facility and some downsizing at
The settlement resolves a months-long conflict
between the company and the Union. Express Scripts is the
country’s 2nd largest pharmacy benefit manager, and SEIU is the
largest labor union in North America.
“This settlement will keep hundreds of good
jobs here in Bensalem, and make sure anyone who gets laid off
will be able to provide for their families in this harsh
economy,” said Linda Chan, a Pharmacy Tech at the Marshall Lane
facility, and a member of the union bargaining committee.
In mid-October, the company announced it would
close the Marshall Lane facility on December 16th, 2010. Then,
following the workers’ overwhelming rejection of the company’s
previous final settlement offer, Express Scripts announced it
would close the Street Road facility effective February 1st,
SEIU members have engaged in a national
campaign to garner support and urge Express Scripts to maintain
quality jobs in Bensalem.
The 2-year agreement approved today:
|Rescinds the company’s decision to
close the Street Road facility and maintains
approximately 400 jobs there, with a commitment to keep the
facility open over the life of the agreement.|
|Maintains affordable, family health
care in the workers’ current health insurance plan.|
|Reinstates, with back pay, the three
workers who were suspended for activity in support of
the fight to save these jobs. |
|Provides a substantial severance
package for workers being laid off – including a lump
sum payment of $10,000 plus an additional week of pay for
every year of service up to 10 weeks. In addition, workers
will receive 5 months of employer-paid health care benefits
or an additional $5,000 in severance pay, at employees’
option. For an employee earning $12 per hour, the severance
package is the equivalent of up to 10 months and 1 week of
|Gives recall rights for laid off
workers if the facility reopens in the future.|
“This has been a very difficult challenge. I
am saddened that many people who helped build this company are
being laid off. But by sticking together we saved 400 good jobs
for this community and won an excellent severance package for
laid off workers that most non-union workers could only dream
about,” said Rickie Stemley, a Pharmacy Tech at the Marshall
“I am proud that we were able to save these
jobs,” said Pam Rogers, President of the union at the two
facilities. “The support we got from the community, other labor
unions and people across the country was overwhelming.”
One union member shared this comment with
It's official, the battle is over and
although we have lost roughly 600 workers, Bensalem is still
standing. I am sad, exhausted and overwhelmed. Overwhelmed
by the support we got from strangers who did not know us,
but stood behind us and I cannot thank you enough. I don't
think you really understand the impact your article had on
workers, who thought no one cared.
This process has changed me forever in both
bad and good ways. I am going to do a lot of praying and
reading my bible to ask that God lift the bitterness I feel
right now and that I just can't seem to shake. I am angry
but I know that the people who are leaving us are happy that
we were able to get such a great severance package for them.
They stood to take away just one week’s pay for every year
they worked, up to 10 years and so now they are walking away
with almost a years salary. Great accomplishment, but still
makes me sad that we are losing such loyal workers. Happy
that 400 frightened workers will live to fight another day
and hopeful that corporate ESI will now realize that they
cannot intimidate workers any more, and take a positive
approach to improve relations between workers and
So it's back to reading prescriptions 10
hours a day, 4 days a week and serving the patients we care
about. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU
Have a blessed holiday and thanks for
doing what you do.
Express Scripts vs. workers (the Service Employees Union
The struggle which we
reported a few days ago is continuing, as union members seek
ways to get Express Scripts not to close its order fulfillment
facility in Bensalem, PA. I have not been able to get in touch
directly with anyone from the SEIU, but it appears that Express
Scripts suspended without pay a few of the workers who were
involved in the union protests. They were charged with
communicating with ESI clients, which apparently meant
specifically the Presbyterian Church (USA).
For a bit more from the union’s perspective,
click here and scroll down a bit, to the second headline.
One Presbyterian minister sent this note in
response to our earlier report:
I wrote the Board of
Pensions – I am very troubled by Express Scripts wanting
$8million in concessions from its workers in Bensalem or
they will close the plants there. Especially since George
Paz, the CEO, makes about $8 million a year. How about he
gives up a year's salary? I don't want to save money through
Express Scripts at the expense of these workers and for
management's benefit. The Board of Pensions should get
involved in this and threaten to go elsewhere for
Lake Luzerne, NY
Have you done anything in response to this
issue? Or do you have any information to add to our slender
supply of news?
send a note, to be shared here!
Is our PC(USA) supporting union
November 13, 2010
prepared by Doug King
For some time now, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, a branch of the Service
Employees International Union, has been calling on Express Scripts to
cancel its plan to close its prescription shipping facility in Bensalem,
Pennsylvania, which would put 365 people out of work, many of whom are
low wage workers with families.
The union workers have offered $8 million in wage and
benefit concessions to help keep the plant open. Even though these
concessions included giving in to the company’s demand that workers give
up their pension plan, so far the company management has been unwilling
with the union, which unites 20,000 health care workers from all areas
of the health care industry in Pennsylvania.
a report on October 15 by Jane M. Von Bergen, a staff writer for the
Philadelphia Inquirer, “the company insists it's a done deal,”
which was announced to employees in their break rooms on October 8. The
plan is to close the plant on December 16. Von Bergen adds that “Express
Scripts, which reported $24.7 billion in revenue and $827.6 million in
profit in 2009, said it would move the work to its new facility in St.
The union asserts that workers at the Bensalem plant
have a high rate of productivity, exemplified last July when they filled
a record 90,000 prescriptions in one day. The St. Louis facility, to
which the company plans to transfer the work, is still in a research and
development stage, and would not have the skilled personnel needed to do
the job, they say. The union questions whether the new system will be
able to handle all the processing necessary to get prescription orders
filled and shipped on time.
It’s worth noting that the two Bensalem plants and a
small facility in Albuquerque, N.M., are the company's only union shops.
And the sizable concessions offered by the union are apparently not
enough to satisfy the company, which seems determined to move this work
to a non-union plant.
Union members have journeyed to Washington to talk
with legislators, and to urge the Department of Defense to drop its
contracts with Express Scripts. Earlier in October, more than a dozen
Express Scripts workers traveled to St. Louis to confront George Paz,
the company's CEO, for threatening to close the Bensalem facility.
Apparently it made no difference.
Paz, by the way, is
reported by Forbes to have received $8.57 million in total
compensation last year. That puts him at number 10 in the ranking of
executive incomes in the health care equipment and services area.
Forbes ranks him at number 120 for compensation among all CEOs in
the United States.
Now the union is approaching a number of organizations
that have sizable contracts with Express Scripts for mail-order
prescription medicine, asking their support. One of those customers just
happens to be the Presbyterian Church (USA). So a few days ago, a
delegation of Express Scripts workers, who are union members, went to
the main office of the Presbyterian Board of Pensions, seeking to make
the church aware of the issue.
One Express Scripts employee and union member, in an
email dated November 11, 2010, relates what happened, and offers her own
We made several calls to the Board of Pensions to
get a meeting but they did not respond. So last week we went
downtown Philly with packages of the same information I emailed to
you. We went to the Fraternal Order of Police and other clients that
do business with Express Scripts, and we were received graciously,
so we decided that since we could not get a meeting with the Board
of Pensions we would stop by and give them a package. The security
guard called upstairs and they were told that someone would come
down to accept our package. After 30 minutes no one showed up, so
the security called again and this time they said that they had no
one to come down to meet with us. We left a package with the
security and left. We then sent EVERY board member a packet which
had the same things I emailed you. Again ... no response. What we
want to do is just sit down with them and tell them what we think
will happen to the customers we serve, should Bensalem facility
close down. Bensalem has the most seasoned workers, we have the
lowest error rates and we are the ONLY facility on the east coast,
so if prescriptions are filled in St. Louis the patients we serve
will have slower turn around time.
Express Scripts is union busting, bottom line, but
the general public does not care about that, what they care about is
how it affects customers so we want to let them know.
What I don't get is
how Christian people can say labor disputes are not a part of the
church! Maybe it is just me, but my faith touches everything I do,
and I cannot say that God has no place at my job, or is MIA [missing
in action] from Monday to Friday between the hours of 9 to 6. God
encompasses EVERYTHING I do from my children to my marriage to my
job and everything in between. In today's economy throwing possibly
1,000 people out of work could place them at the door steps of
churches and food pantries.
What does this have to do with the PC(USA)?
We’re one of Express Scripts’ clients, since over 120,000 people with
medical coverage under the Board of Presbyterians have their
prescriptions filled by the company. The union believes this puts the
Board of Pensions among the top 25% of Express Scripts’ largest clients.
Our church’s social policies clearly support workers’
rights, just wages, and the principle of labor unions as a means to
Clearly the General Assembly and the church’s members
cannot dictate policies of the Board of Pensions. That is being
demonstrated right now in the BoP’s response (or lack of response) to
the General Assembly’s call for equal treatment of same-gender partners
in terms of medical and pension benefits. But perhaps we as members of
the PC(USA), and many of us as ministers whose pension and medical
benefits are managed by the BoP, may want to ask a few serious
For instance, does the Board of Pensions pay attention
to the policies and behavior of its sub-contractors? Does it exercise
due diligence in seeking suppliers whose labor practices are to some
degree reasonable and fair? Is the BoP willing to meet and talk with
groups that have concerns they want to discuss with it, or will it
simply refuse to meet those with such concerns? The SEIU union members
are asking for just 15 minutes or half an hour for a small delegation to
meet with someone in a responsible position in the BoP.
Can our church engage in this effort for justice?
If the Board of Pensions will not talk with the employees of Express
Scripts, nor with the company itself, can some of us as ministers and
members of the PC(USA) speak up?
Click here for a letter (in
MS Word fomat) drafted by the union members, that you might revise for
yourself and send to CEO George Paz. Or you could make a phone call to
him, at (314) 996-0900. Perhaps some other office in the PC(USA)
might engage in a conversation with the company, if our Board of
Pensions is reluctant to do so. The union is clearly asking the church
to provide them with a little leverage with the company, to avoid the
loss of nearly 400 jobs – or 1,000 jobs if both Bensalem plants are
In short, do we care about God’s call to do justice,
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God? Would we want to
agree publicly with the last paragraph in
the union member’s statement about the SEIU’s visit to the BoP? (It
really looks like pretty good theology to me!) And might we act
accordingly, and ask our church to do the same?
NOTE: We have contacted Express Scripts, asking for
their comments on this report. As soon as we receive any response
from them, we will post it here.
For more information, visit the SEIU website,
Here’s another view of the workers’
struggle for justice at Express Scripts
Corporate Greed as a Family Value? Express Scripts' New War on
by Mike Doyle [11-14-10]
This should be the story of a win-win
situation. In the middle of the Great Recession, a nationally
prominent mega-corporation manages to achieve phenomenal
profitability and decides to share its good fortune with the
wage workers who helped make that profit possible. All of that
happens to be true about Express Scripts (Nasdaq: ESRX), the
nation’s second-largest pharmacy benefits manager--all except
for the decision about how to thank its workers. To show their
gratitude, Express Scripts managers went in a different
direction. First, they publicly lauded union workers at their
most efficient processing plant. Then they told them they were
losing their jobs. Sometimes corporate America’s capacity to
stick it to the little guy is so astounding, you can’t help but
feel impressed by the chutzpah.
The full article >>
[If you read this article, don’t miss the
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GA actions going
to the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their
action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.|
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
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