Walgreens Pharmacy Workers Walk Off The Job

Meanwhile, customers waiting for their prescriptions often get frustrated.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 4, 2013: A sign marks the entrance to a Walgreens store in San Francisco's upscale Union Square shopping district. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Thousands of Walgreens employees walked off the job this week, saying they are overworked and underpaid.

Walgreens locations closed in Arizona, Washington, Massachusetts, and Oregon, and potentially other states as well, based on social media posts from pharmacy staff and customers.

The anonymous organizer of the walkout, who has worked at Walgreens for over a decade, estimated that several hundred pharmacists and pharmacy technicians joined the walkout.

The pharmacy workers claim that unsafe working conditions are putting their patients at risk, as well as themselves. Employees have described being the only pharmacist on staff for a 12-hour shift or having 300 prescriptions to fill while they are working alone. They are also dealing with insurance companies, vaccination appointments, patient calls, and flu and COVID tests.

Meanwhile, customers waiting for their prescriptions often get frustrated.

“When you’re a pharmacist, a missed letter or a number that’s wrong in a prescription could kill somebody,” the organizer said.

“The company has cut hours drastically while continuing to pile more work and new programs on top of us. Customers are not being taken care of. Our patients are not being cared for. It is not safe,” the organizer added.

A Walgreens spokesman said the walkout had a “minimal” effect and that only a “small number” of pharmacies experienced disruptions.


The Walgreens workers are demanding that the pharmacy giant hire more staff, implement mandatory training hours, offer payroll transparency, and give notice when staff will be cut or when a position opens.

Walgreens employees are not unionized, so the walkout effort was organized on a subreddit for pharmacy workers.

The walkout was inspired by a similar walkout by CVS employees in several Kansas City stores several weeks ago, the organizer said. CVS employees are not unionized either.

The protest also comes after more than 75,000 employees with health care behemoth Kaiser Permanente walked off the job for three days, also citing staffing shortages.

Walgreens spokesman Fraser Engerman said the company acknowledges that recent years have been “unprecedented” and “a very challenging time,” and the company 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,” Engerman said. “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 well-being.”

The Walgreens spokesman also added that the company is making “significant investments in pharmacist wages and hiring bonuses” to attract and retain employees in Walgreens stores that are harder to staff.

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