Employees at two mega pharmacies in the United States have planned a nationwide three-day walkout.
Labor unrest has been hitting a number of companies, and now Walgreens and CVS have been added to the list. Thousands of employees from the two pharmacy chains began a walkout on Monday that will last until November 1.
Strike organizers have named the work stoppage “Pharmageddon.” They are claiming workers have been subject to unsafe working conditions that jeopardize employees and patients both, reported CNBC.
Walgreens employs more than 86,000 healthcare service providers, encompassing a range of professionals, including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and other health-related personnel. Its competitor, CVS, maintains a workforce of over 30,000 pharmacists and 70,000 pharmacy technicians.
In just over a month, pharmacists have engaged in strike action three times, highlighting their increasing dissatisfaction with the current working conditions and the need for companies to step up their recruitment efforts, as reported by Reuters.
Walgreens and CVS were the largest pharmacies in the United States in 2022, each with approximately 9,000 retail stores nationwide and the highest prescription drug market share.
According to Shane Jerominski, a former Walgreens pharmacist and one of the walkout organizers, the stores are currently facing a severe staff shortage. He claimed workers are overwhelmed by the number of prescriptions, immunization appointments, and walk-ins they are expected to handle.
Jerominski highlighted that the organizers behind the walkout are also advocating for improved remuneration and consistent working hours for the technicians. Technicians are responsible for locating, dispensing, packing, and labeling prescribed medication for patients under the supervision of pharmacists.
Walgreens said it is taking measures to enable its pharmacy teams to focus on providing the best possible care for their patients. According to a spokesperson for the company who spoke to Reuters, they are working on enhancing their recruitment, retention, and reward policies for pharmacy staff.
The company said it has also worked toward centralizing some of its operations to make it easier for pharmacists to manage their workload, including opening its 11th micro fulfillment center to allow “staff to spend more time with customers.”
A spokesperson for CVS indicated that CVS’s leadership is engaged in a “continuous two-way dialogue” with their pharmacists to proactively address any concerns that may arise, as reported by Reuters.