Why are pharmacy workers at CVS and Walgreens protesting?

Why are pharmacy workers at CVS and Walgreens protesting?

According to protest organizers, some pharmacy workers have been calling in sick or walking off the job this week in protest of what they say are inadequate staffing and increased work requirements that make it harder for them to safely fill prescriptions and administer vaccines Has gone.

The protest by non-union workers, called Pharmageddon on social media, is affecting some CVS and Walgreens locations, according to organizers and activists. They are occurring during a period of increased labor activism by workers in the auto industry and other sectors, including Hollywood.

Blade Tanno, a pharmacist in Oklahoma City who previously worked for Walgreens and now works for a hospital, said she was helping spread the word about the walkout because she was concerned that pharmacy chains would be understaffed for years. She was telling workers to “work faster”. Work with less help.”

“The pharmacies are not OK,” Ms. Tanno said. “Your local Walgreens and CVS and Rite Aid are no good. This is a soup of danger, it contains elements of companies that have lost the core belief of what we do, which is patient care and patient focus.”

Without a union to coordinate collective action, it’s “hard to say” how widespread the protests are and how many workers are calling in sick or walking out, said Shane Jerominski, a former pharmacist at Walgreens in Southern California, who coordinated the protests. are doing. On his Facebook page, The Accidental Pharmacist.

On Monday, ahead of a planned three-day walkout, Mr. Jarominski said “thousands of stores were understaffed” and 25 pharmacies were closed in 15 states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Texas and Illinois.

But Walgreens said in a statement Tuesday that, since Monday, it has “seen only three pharmacies out of approximately 9,000 closed due to workforce disruption and no more than a handful of pharmacists have been out.”

CVS said in a statement Tuesday that it is “serving patients across our footprint today, and we are not seeing any unusual activity regarding unplanned pharmacy closures or pharmacist walkouts.”

And Rite Aid said it was “unaware of any plans by our pharmacists to participate in this activity.”

Mr. Jerominski said workers had rallied on Facebook and Reddit to demand more staffing for pharmacy technicians, as well as better pay and guaranteed hours.

He said, many people were inspired about it Two dozen CVS pharmacists walked off the job in the Kansas City, Mo., area in September over concerns about staffing and stressful working conditions.

The American Pharmacists Association said A statement supporting the walkout Pharmacists have struggled for years with “workplace issues that lead to frustration and burnout, which impact your mental health and well-being.”

The association attributed quotas in the number of prescriptions filled per hour and vaccines administered per day, among other factors.

Thornton, Colo. Nathan Fuller, 34, a pharmacist at a Walgreens in Washington, D.C., said he called in sick Monday and Tuesday to protest the lack of enough staff to handle prescriptions and vaccines, which he said was putting patient safety at risk. Was.

Mr. Fuller said Walgreens moved up the schedule of vaccines last year, allowing patients to double and triple book in the same time slot. The technicians administering the vaccines couldn’t keep up, and many said, “‘Enough’ and just walked out of the pharmacy,” Mr. Fuller said.

“People were crying, people were broken,” Mr. Fuller said. He said he met with Walgreens leaders to emphasize the need for more staff or flexibility in scheduling vaccines, but was told, “It’s happening whether you staff it or not.”

He said he’s concerned that when staffing numbers are reduced, “it’s often the public that suffers.”

Mr Fuller said, “We have people who are tired, struggling with exhaustion and emotional distress and mental health issues, and that can create an unsafe environment for people doing jobs that require a lot of “More attention is required.”

Christine Settee, 64, said she quit her job as a pharmacy technician at CVS in Waynesburg, Pa., last week because “I feel like they don’t appreciate their employees.”

Ms. Setty said she was making $18.19 an hour after 39 years on the job, which she called “miserable.”

She manned the drive-thru window, front counter and phones and also counted pills. She was often the only employee other than the pharmacist on duty, she said.

CVS cut her hours from 40 to 30 per week, she said, forcing her to take a second job as a private nurse for a family to help pay the bills.

Rebecca Collins Givhan, an associate professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers University, said such concerns are not limited to workers at chain pharmacies.

Professor Given said, “This is a symptom we see in many areas of health care, which is that a variety of health care providers are driven by profit and revenue, and if they can reduce staff costs , so they do it.”

“You see it in nursing, too,” she said. “Understaffing really turns into a vicious cycle where the more employees you have, the harder it is to do the job properly, and that leads to more employees becoming frustrated and demotivated and more likely to leave.”

CVS said it is “committed to providing access to consistent, safe, high-quality health care to the patients and communities we serve and is engaged in an ongoing two-way dialogue with our pharmacists to ensure their Any concerns can be addressed directly.”

The company said, “In response to recent feedback from our pharmacy teams, we are making targeted investments to address their key concerns, including enabling teams to schedule additional support as needed, enhancing pharmacist and technician recruitment and hiring and strengthening pharmacy technician training. ,

“We recognize the incredible work our pharmacists do every day, especially this time of year when demand for their services is increasing in communities,” Walgreens said.

It said: “We have taken steps over the past two years to improve the experience of pharmacists, advance the profession and enable them to deliver the high-value care for which they were trained.”

“We believe that our efforts to improve work/life balance and working conditions for our pharmacists in recent years and months are a testament to our commitment to the team,” Rite Aid said.

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