In a recent surge of labor unrest, pharmacy employees from CVS Health Corporation CVS and Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. WBA raised their voices by calling out sick or walking out entirely last week.
What Happened: These actions were a protest against what they described as insufficient staffing and escalating job demands, which they believed are compromising the safety of their work environment.
The grassroots movement, known on social media as “Pharmageddon,” is part of a more significant wave of worker activism that has impacted sectors like automotive manufacturing and entertainment.
The protests were primarily driven by nonunion workers and have reportedly affected several pharmacy locations, as reported by The New York Times.
Expressing solidarity with the movement, Bled Tanoe, a pharmacist based in Oklahoma City, told the newspaper that she has been actively disseminating information about the walkouts.
Ms. Tanoe, who previously worked for Walgreens and is now employed by a hospital, shared her concerns about the pharmacy chains’ longstanding push for increased efficiency at the cost of patient care.
“Pharmacies are not OK,” Ms. Tanoe told The New York Times, emphasizing the potential risks customers face due to the current pressures on pharmacy staff.
While the full scope of the protests is complex to gauge without a union’s coordination, Shane Jerominski has orchestrated actions through his Facebook page The Accidental Pharmacist, the newspaper noted. He reported that a significant number of stores were understaffed and that various pharmacy outlets across states such as New York and Illinois were temporarily closed.
In response to the protests, Walgreens and CVS minimized their impact, with the latter affirming that its operations have continued without notable disruptions, according to the newspaper.
Rite Aid Corporation RAD also stated that it was “unaware of plans by our pharmacists to participate in this activity.”
Pharmacy workers have been assembling online, particularly on Facebook and Reddit, to organize and advocate for improved staffing, compensation and consistent hours for pharmacy technicians. A previous walkout by CVS pharmacists in Missouri partly inspired this collective action.
According to the report, Rebecca Kolins Givan, an associate professor at Rutgers University, pointed out that these issues are symptomatic of a larger trend within healthcare, where profit motives often lead to reduced staffing, resulting in a cycle of worker dissatisfaction and high turnover rates.
In response to the unrest, CVS said it has committed to targeted investments to address these concerns, focusing on scheduling flexibility, recruitment,and training. Walgreens also said it has committed to improving pharmacists’ work experiences and “advancing the profession.”
This period of labor protest marks a critical point for workers’ rights within the healthcare industry.
Related stocks in the pharmaceutical sector, such as Pfizer Inc. PFE and Johnson & Johnson JNJ, may also be impacted by the broader implications of these protests.
Additionally, ETFs like the Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund XLV and the iShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF IHE could see investor sentiment shift as the industry responds to these labor challenges.
This content was partially produced with the help of AI tools and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.