PORTLAND, Maine — A group of 21 staff pharmacists at 16 Shaw’s Supermarket stores throughout Maine will join the Teamsters Union Local 340 after approving the move in a vote Tuesday.

The union announced the vote in a news release Wednesday. Aligning with the national labor organization will give the staff pharmacists collective bargaining representation.

“We will work tirelessly, providing them with the best representation to improve their working conditions and negotiate a strong contract that puts their rights and protections on paper,” Local 340 President Brett Miller said in the news release.

The pharmacies are located in Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, Biddeford, Brunswick, Dover-Foxcroft, Ellsworth, Freeport, Lewiston, Portland, Rockland, Saco, Sanford, Scarborough, Waterville and Westbrook.

The vote comes after a dispute before the National Labor Relations Board over the status of another 16 pharmacy managers at the stores. The unions had petitioned to represent those employees and another 35 pharmacy technicians.

In March, the NLRB decided that the pharmacy managers qualified as supervisors and were not eligible to organize under the National Labor Relations Act. Both parties, the NLRB wrote, agreed to exclude the pharmacy technicians from the union effort.

The national union represents a wide array of industries in the U.S., with about 440 Teamsters locals in the country and other affiliates through the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada that represent about 1.4 million workers, according to the Teamsters’ website.

About 71,000 workers in Maine are represented by unions, a number on the decline in recent years in Maine, falling from about 13.1 percent of employed workers in 2013 to about 12.5 percent in 2014.

Union representation in Maine over the last decade peaked in 2008 at 14.7 percent of workers.

Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.