Over the last two weeks, some Walgreens pharmacists and a group of CVS pharmacists in Kansas City have walked off the job due to an ongoing overwhelming work environment, and now there might be a much larger protest in the works, reports CNBC.
Walgreens pharmacists are leading the charge, and they are reaching out to disgruntled workers at other retailers to potentially stage nationwide walkouts on Oct. 30 and Nov. 1.
CNBC confirmed the protests via a CVS employee who led the initial CVS pharmacist walkout in Kansas City.
Prem Shah, CVS’s chief pharmacy officer and president of pharmacy and consumer wellness, met with the striking workers at the time of the initial strike and promised better working conditions. Some CVS pharmacists have scheduled another meeting with Shah later this week, and if it ends poorly, those workers will then notify Walgreens pharmacists to move forward with a nationwide strike.
Amy Thibault, lead director, external communications, for CVS sent an email response to Supermarket News and said the company has not observed any unusual activity regarding unplanned pharmacy closures or pharmacist walkouts.
“We’re focused on developing a sustainable, scalable action plan to support both our pharmacists and our customers, that can be put in place in markets where support may be needed so we can continue delivering the high-quality care our patients depend on,” she said.
Walgreens declined to comment on speculation.
The nationwide walkout is expected to have more viability than the previous walkouts. CNBC reports that rallies will be held in select cities and demonstrations could be held outside of stores.
“We support all of the hard-working pharmacy staff who have decided to take a stand by walking out and fighting for a better life at work. By standing together, workers are showing Walgreens and CVS that they will not sit by as these corporations continue to fail them,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone. UFCW represents CVS and Walgreens pharmacists.
“We have seen the toll that the pandemic took on our members as they risked their lives daily to ensure the safety and wellbeing of communities across the nation. Their contributions cannot be forgotten.”
COVID-19 vaccinations and testing have only added to the already heavy workload of pharmacists, and this fall there are also flu and other respiratory vaccines to administer. Many stores only have one immunizer on staff, and according to CNBC the margin on vaccines is much bigger than medications which has led retailers to shift priorities.
CVS CEO Karen Lynch told a crowd at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Niguel, Calif., that she believes burnout from the pandemic and a high demand for COVID-19 vaccinations this fall have the pharmacists reaching a breaking point.