HUNDREDS of Walgreens could suddenly close next week due to possible work stoppages, not long after the chain announced plans to permanently close 150 stores.
The threatened closures come as employees across the U.S. complain about harsh working conditions and push for changes. Work stoppages are expected to take place in the next few days.
A strike organizer and Walgreens pharmacy employee who recently spoke to CNN Business and requested anonymity confirmed to the news outlet that some employees, including pharmacists, support staff and technicians, are planning a strike between Oct. 9 and Oct. 11.
Although some employees plan to be out for just one day, others may take time off work for the entire three-day period and pharmacies will close, CNN reports.
The anonymous employee said more than 500 stores across the U.S. showed interest and like-mindedness in the lead-up to the strike.
The 500 stores are among approximately 9,000 Walgreens stores nationwide.
The organizer said, “We do not believe Walgreens allows us to provide safe care to our patients on a daily basis.”
“Walgreens isn’t responsive, they don’t fix these things.”
Meanwhile, another Walgreens pharmacy employee, who informed CNN that employees will be leaving the store on Monday, said: “I spend almost all day in the shot room, and when I’m not in the shot room, I’m filling prescriptions, because.” we are so behind.
“There were nights where I was close to tears because it’s so hard.
“A patient gave me a punch and told me I was doing a good job, and that meant a lot to me. The patients care more about us than the employer.”
Another pharmacist, who told how pharmacists from 13 other stores were planning to join the strike, said: “We will do a lot more harm to people in the next ten years of working like this than if we did it with one three-day strike.”
“It’s time to try something different. Every year we get the same promises and every year we get the same Band-Aid on the problem.”
The pharmacist expects his Walgreens pharmacy will be closed during the strike.
Walgreens is aware of the situation and communications director Fraser Engerman issued the following statement to CNN: “The last few years have required unprecedented effort from our team members, and we share their pride in that work – although we recognize it has been a very challenging time.” .
“We also understand the tremendous pressure currently facing retail pharmacy across the United States. We are committed and listening to the concerns of some of our team members.”
He added that Walgreens is “committed to ensuring our entire pharmacy team has the support and resources necessary to continue to provide the best care to our patients while ensuring their own well-being.”
“We are investing significantly in pharmacist salaries and hiring bonuses to attract/retain talent in hard-to-staff locations,” he concluded.
News of the strike comes after the popular drugstore confirmed that a Walgreens location in Auburn, Maine, would close this weekend after announcing its plans to close over 150 stores.
Walgreens’ parent company, Walgreens Boots Alliance, announced this summer that it would close 150 stores in the United States.
The list of affected locations has not yet been released and the company did not announce when the stores will close.
Walgreens Boots Alliance is targeting $4.2 billion in savings and is taking “immediate actions to optimize the profitability of our U.S. healthcare segment,” CEO Rosalind Brewer said during an earnings call.