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Pharmacy staff from CVS, Walgreens stores in US start 3-day walkout


Some employees at CVS Health Corp (CVS.N) and Walgreens Boots Alliance’s (WBA.O) U.S. pharmacies launched a three-day walkout starting Monday to get the companies to improve working conditions and recruit more people, among other issues.

The walkout, which the organizers have dubbed “Pharmageddon”, is the third strike by pharmacists in a little over one month.

In September, some staff from CVS stores in Kansas City went on a two-day strike, while there was another by Walgreens store employees earlier this month.

“Some of these stores are so grossly understaffed at the moment and just bogged down with not only prescriptions but the amount of immunization appointments and walk-ins that they’re expected to do,” Shane Jerominski, a former Walgreens pharmacist and one of the organizers of the walkout, told Reuters.

Jerominski estimated that as many as 5,000 pharmacy workers would walk out across the three days, but said that the exact number of affected stores and participating staff was not clear due to the lack of a union.

Pharmacy staff in New York and Pennsylvania were planning to participate, including workers at some of Walgreens’ Duane Reade stores in New York, he said.

Some pharmacists were also planning to conduct rallies outside CVS’ headquarters at Woonsocket, Rhode Island and at Walgreens at Deerfield, Illinois, according to social media posts.

Jerominski said the organizers were also seeking better pay and more consistent hours for technicians, who locate, dispense, pack, and label prescribed medication for patients under the supervision of pharmacists.

A spokesperson for CVS said its leaders were connected with their pharmacists to directly address concerns and engaged in a “continuous two-way dialogue”, while Walgreens said it has taken steps to help its pharmacy teams “concentrate on providing optimal patient care”.

“Our ongoing efforts are focused on how we recruit, retain, and reward our pharmacy staff,” a spokesperson for Walgreens told Reuters, adding that they have also centralized some operations to reduce pharmacists’ workload.

The company earlier this month said it opened its 11th micro fulfillment center, which are centralized units that fill prescriptions, allowing its “staff to spend more time with customers” to offer other health-related products and services.

The walkouts are part of the larger trend of labor unrest in several industries, including strikes by autoworkers, writers and actors, as well as the largest recorded medical worker walkout by employees of Kaiser Permanente earlier this month.

Related Galleries:

A person walks by a CVS pharmacy store in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 15, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

File photo: People walk by a Walgreens, owned by the Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 26, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File photo

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