Walgreens workers are expressing their dissatisfaction at current working conditions, as reports say pharmacy workers are planning a walkout from Oct. 9 to Oct. 11.
Posts on social media platforms such as Reddit indicate walkouts have already begun at locations across the country. Employees said they are fed up with what they deem as unfair working conditions and that it's difficult to fulfill prescriptions due to an insufficient number of employees at each store. They believe corporate management has been “unrealistic and unfair” leading to worse patient outcomes.
Organizers that chose to remain anonymous told CNN and other media outlets of their plans to walk out at approximately 9,000 Walgreens stores impacting around 500 employees and many customers.
A Reddit post Monday stated a letter was sent to interim CEO Ginger Graham about the concerns and expectations of disgruntled Walgreens employees asking for payroll transparency and mandatory training hours for new team members.
“We need to understand when and why hours are given and taken from a store," the post reads. “We should have enough notice to make the necessary changes to staffing and schedules."
The letter also called for stores to receive an appropriate number of tasks— such as prescriptions filled, vaccines given and other health tests—for the number of employees each location has instead of based on the number of staff corporate management says each store has. The workers say stores are often understaffed compared to expectations, leading to overworked and burned out employees.
“We can't staff our stores and pharmacies if Walgreens won't pay the market rate for positions and we can no longer shoulder the extra work because you choose not to offer a wage, benefit, bonus, or work environment that will attract workers,” the letter added.
In a statement to Fierce Healthcare, a Walgreens spokesperson acknowledged that pharmacy teams have worked “tirelessly” in recent years to help serve their communities.
“The last few years have required an unprecedented effort from our team members, and we share their pride in this work—while recognizing it has been a very challenging time,” said the spokesperson. “We also understand the immense pressures felt across the U.S. in retail pharmacy right now. We are engaged and listening to the concerns raised by some of our team members. We are committed to ensuring that our entire pharmacy team has the support and resources necessary to continue to provide the best care to our patients while taking care of their own wellbeing.”
The spokesperson added they are “making significant investments” in pharmacist wages and hiring bonuses to attract and retain staff members.
Walgreens is in the midst of transformative change, as the company is dealing with the departures of CEO Roz Brewer, Chief Information Officer Hsiao Wang and Chief Financial Officer James Kehoe.
Its transition from retail store to all-encompassing healthcare company has been rocky. During a third-quarter earnings call, Walgreens slashed its profit outlook for the remainder of the year.
The walkout is just the latest example of organized protest regarding unsatisfactory working conditions in healthcare. Just last week, CVS pharmacy employees walked out during their shifts in Kansas City.
Kaiser Permanent workers began a three-day demonstration on Wednesday. The 75,000 workers, frustrated at contract bargaining sessions, said they want to address short staffing and starting pay for certain positions.