Some Walgreens pharmacy staff have taken a stand this week, raising concerns about the working conditions that are endangering both employees and patients.
The exact scale of the protest remains uncertain. However, organizers estimated that walkouts, planned to take place from Monday through Wednesday, impacted over 300 Walgreens locations nationwide, out of the nearly 9,000 in total. On the other hand, a company spokesperson downplayed the disruption, stating that only “no more than a dozen” pharmacies were affected.
According to a pharmacy manager at Walgreens, who played a role in organizing the walkouts, teams are struggling with understaffing and excessive workloads, exacerbated by the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
These unfavorable conditions have led to a series of issues, as the organizer highlights. Upset customers are a consequence, in addition to medication errors, vaccination errors, and needle sticks.
Importantly, many Walgreens workers are not unionized. Hence, those participating in the walkouts have turned to online platforms to organize their efforts. The protesting employees have outlined three main requests for the company: enhanced transparency regarding shifting hours and schedules, allocated training hours for new team members, and adjusted tasks and expectations at each location based on staffing levels.
Addressing Concerns in the Pharmacy Industry
The recent walkouts by pharmacy staff at Walgreens and CVS locations have shed light on the underlying concerns about working conditions faced by employees in the industry. As drugstores across the country gear up for the busy fall season, heavy workloads and additional demands brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a toll on pharmacy staff.
If these concerns are not properly addressed, more walkouts could occur at the end of the month, warns the organizer. The pharmacy staff is seeking support and resources to ensure they can continue providing the best care to patients while also taking care of their own wellbeing.
Acknowledging the employees’ concerns, Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman stated that the company is committed to listening and responding to their needs. Engerman emphasized the importance of providing the necessary support for the entire pharmacy team.
Bled Tanoe, a former pharmacist who has been supporting the walkouts through social media, explains that while some of these concerns have been building for years, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the issue. The addition of new demands such as testing and vaccination has put extra pressure on pharmacy staff, without receiving adequate support and resources.
Last month, CVS locations in the Kansas City area also witnessed walkouts, prompting the company to promise an increase in hiring efforts. This indicates that these concerns are widespread in the pharmacy industry and necessitate immediate attention.
It is crucial for pharmacies to address these issues and prioritize the wellbeing of their employees to ensure the provision of quality care to patients.