The organizing group is calling themselves the “Pharmacy Guild.” The move comes on the heels of scattered walkouts across the nation to protest poor working conditions within pharmacies.
IAM Healthcare, a union of health care professionals, is leading the charge, alongside online pharmacist communities.
Understaffing is one of the top complaints, with pharmacists citing an increased pressure for vaccinations.
But a pharmacy giant like Walgreens, for instance, counters that it has put measures in place to support pharmacists. Currently, Walgreens Boots Alliance has 11 micro-fulfillment pharmacy centers across the U.S. which support over 4,000 stores. Walgreens says the centers are there to handle routine tasks like filling prescriptions so that pharmacists can focus on patient care and clinical services, according to reporting from Crain’s.
In October, over 2.3 million prescriptions were being filled weekly by the centers, Crain’s reported. Walgreens said it plans to open eight more sites by the end of 2024.
“We are fully committed to ensuring the contributions of our pharmacists are acknowledged and rewarded, including competitive pay and benefits,” Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman said in an emailed statement to Supermarket News. “We respect the right of our people to choose to be represented by a union but we continue to believe the best way to accomplish meaningful results is through the direct relationship between our team members and their managers. And the vast majority of our team members agree.”
The latest pharmacist walkout, originally dubbed “Pharmageddon” over fear of a widespread walkout with large ramifications, took place last week but ended up having minimal participation and impact. A Walgreens spokesperson told Reuters the protest closed only three pharmacies temporarily.
CVS Chief Executive Karen Lynch told Reuters some workers called in sick at a few stores but there were no closures or disruption in service.