CHICAGO — Starting Monday, some Walgreens employees are reportedly staging walkouts at stores across the country.
Unlike labor strikes organized by union leaders, Walgreens employees likely won’t be standing outside or holding picket signs. In a different showing of solidarity, some employees say they plan on calling in sick as part of the three-day walkout.
“A lot of pharmacy technicians have voiced their concerns over the last few years,” said one Walgreens employee who asked to remain anonymous.
On the condition of anonymity, WGN TV spoke with a Chicago-area Walgreens pharmacy technician who said he feels that things did not need to escalate to the point where a walkout was necessary to initiate change and get their message across.
Citing working conditions that make it tough to safely refill prescriptions, some pharmacy and support staff will be calling in sick in solidarity.
“The amount of workload that one technician is forced to handle is quite a lot,” the employee said.
According to the anonymous employee, during certain times of the year, when seasonal vaccination rates skyrocket, it only increases the workload, making it even more difficult to focus on filling potentially life-saving prescriptions and providing quality customer care.
“It causes a lot of issues, especially when you don’t meet the quotas, they expect you to reach from the previous years, they tend to cut hours,” the anonymous employee said.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Walgreens, which is headquartered in Deerfield, said:
Our pharmacy teams work tirelessly to serve our communities — from administering life-saving vaccines, to helping patients receive prescriptions and health screenings — especially this time of year, during which we see some of the highest rates of respiratory illnesses and seasonal vaccinations.
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.
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 well-being. We are making significant investments in pharmacist wages and hiring bonuses to attract/retain talent in harder-to-staff locations.
Without a central organizing body, it is unclear how many employees will be walking out or how many pharmacies will be impacted, forcing patients to seek alternative options.
“It’s unfortunate but working under these conditions is not good for them as well,” the anonymous employee said.
A spokesperson declined to comment further when asked whether Walgreens planned to bring in temporary staffers to fill the pharmacy shortages, but said the vast majority of its stores are operating as usual.”