‘Pharmageddon’ is coming: Thousands of pharmacists plot next walkout over work conditions

October  31,2023

Workers from some of the nation’s biggest pharmacy chains, from CVS to Walgreens, have planned another “walkout” starting Monday, October 30, as they continue to plead for better working conditions, Fox Business first reported.

They’re calling it “pharmageddon,” Shane Jerominski, a licensed pharmacist for over a decade who is helping coordinate the latest protest, told Fox.

From Monday through Wednesday workers at Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid have pledged to call in sick, according to Jerominski. It comes on the heels of a protest earlier this month during which employees at 200 Walgreens (out of 9,000) called out sick. Shortly before that, CVS employees in at least a dozen Kansas stores didn’t show up to work in a separate walkout.

Jerominski says workers are demanding a slate of things to ease the onslaught of duties they have taken on in recent years. Some of the biggest demands include guaranteed hours and better pay for technicians. They also want pharmacists and pharmacy managers to have a direct say in the scheduling.

The hope is that these changes will lead to better staffed stores, improve their work-life balance, and reduce the margin of error that they say could impact patient safety.

“We are a force to be reckoned with and we demand more from those who would see us and those we care for suffer,” a letter sent to Walgreens staff from organizers of “pharmaggedon” said.

It’s hard to pinpoint how many people will be involved in this latest effort, according to Jerominski. However, according to a poll posted on his social media page, The Accidental Pharmacist, over 2,000 people said, “I’m all for this no matter what.”

An additional 1,442 people said they would as long as “hundreds to thousands of pharmacists and technicians” participate, according to screenshots of the poll seen by Fox.

Aside from asking people to call out sick, Jerominski (who told Fox that he is not one of the main organizers of the walkout) also is trying to organize protests in front of CVS and Walgreens headquarters this week to make their movement more visible.

The issue is that major pharmacy chains have been unable to effectively staff their stores and pharmacies. At the same time, they have ramped up vaccine appointments, which made pharmacies fall behind on filling prescriptions, according to the pharmacist.

“Our stores are still thousands of prescriptions behind. Our patients are still going days, weeks or even months without their needed medicine. And they’re pretending that there’s not a problem,” a pharmacist, told Fox Business on Friday, October 27. “Until they acknowledge that there’s an actual problem and work to address the actual problem… we have to keep pushing.”

Amid the growing issues in the industry, a spokesperson for Rite Aid told Fox that the company is committed to “providing safe, productive and supportive work environments for all our associates; including our dedicated pharmacists, who serve our communities by providing vaccines, prescriptions, and day-to-day guidance on whole health.”

A spokesperson for CVS said it’s not seeing any “unusual activity regarding unplanned pharmacy closures or pharmacist walkouts” and that it’s working with its pharmacists to directly address any of their concerns.

Research contact: @FoxBusiness