Employees at major US drugstore chains, including Walgreens and CVS, have initiated a series of walkouts across the country to protest harsh working conditions that are believed to jeopardize both their safety and customers’ well-being.
While most Walgreens and CVS workers are not unionized, they have still managed to stage walkouts, although the scale of the action remains uncertain.
In the past months, employees at these drugstore chains have previously organized walkouts in various states, impacting pharmacy operations.
These actions aim to address concerns about their working conditions, emphasizing safety.
Shane Jerominski, an independent pharmacist and one of the walkout organizers, explained that fear of retaliation from bosses and corporate leadership previously deterred many workers from participating.
However, as there have been no reported reprisals, more staff have felt encouraged to join the movement.
Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman reported that only two stores closed on Monday, with up to 12 pharmacists participating in the walkout across the entire country. He didn’t specify whether this count included pharmacy staff.
Jerominski noted that some employees, concerned about potential company reprisals, are opting to call in sick instead of walking out.
These absences are not officially counted as part of the walkout by Walgreens.
The organizers expect the momentum to build over the next few days, culminating in a planned demonstration outside Walgreens’ headquarters in Deerfield, a Chicago suburb.
Pharmacy Employees Walkouts Over Harsh Conditions
A GoFundMe page, initially set up to support unionization efforts among pharmacy staff, has raised over $60,000 and is now used as an emergency relief fund for workers requiring financial assistance to participate in the walkout.
The timing of the walkout, starting the day before Halloween, coincides with the busy cold and flu season, as well as a surge in demand for vaccinations.
This strategic timing underscores the workers’ concerns about the impact of their actions on the companies’ operations.
Support from unions, such as the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, further strengthens the movement.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) also supported the employees’ struggle.
The American Pharmacists Association, representing pharmacy workers across the US, has also expressed solidarity with those participating in the walkout.
They’ve criticized employers for placing undue pressure on pharmacists with excessive quotas and time-based productivity demands, emphasizing the importance of the pharmacist-patient relationship over profit margins.
Walgreens and CVS have maintained that their operations remain primarily unaffected, emphasizing their commitment to providing high-quality healthcare while engaging in ongoing dialogue with pharmacists to address their concerns.
The situation highlights the continuing debate surrounding workplace conditions, safety, and healthcare in the United States.