May 1, 2024 - News

Walgreens pharmacists to rally outside Chicago-area stores

Photo of pharmacists with signs that say "Honk to support pharmacists"

Protesters outside a Walgreens store in Bolingbrook. Photo courtesy of Laborers' International Union of North America

Pharmacists at Walgreens across the Chicago area are demonstrating at stores to call for better pay and hours.

The big picture: The protests follow labor disruptions at pharmacies nationwide — dubbed "pharmageddon" — in response to understaffing and growing workplace demands that they say put patients' health at risk.

The latest: Walgreens pharmacists and supporters are planning to rally today outside stores in Old Town, Bucktown and East Garfield Park.

Reality check: It's not a work stoppage; Walgreens are open and operating as usual.

Friction point: The National Pharmacists Association-Laborers' International Union of North America, which represents 900 pharmacists around Chicago, says the union has been operating without a contract for 9 months and that pharmacists have seen a 2% pay increase in the past seven years.

  • Walgreens spokesperson Marty Maloney tells Axios the company has been asking to meet with the union since last October.

What they're saying: "We've gone so many different directions as a company trying to reinvent the wheel and find new ways to make money that the department that's doing everything is being clamped down on," pharmacist Joe Pignataro, who's been with the company for 34 years, tells Axios.

The other side: "We have taken steps over the last two years to improve pharmacists' experience, advance the profession and enable them to provide the high value care they were trained to do," Walgreens said in a statement.

  • "We are fully committed to ensuring their contributions are acknowledged and rewarded, including with competitive pay and benefits."

What's next: The "Phed Up Pharmacists" are protesting outside Chicago-area pharmacies over the next week, culminating with a rally outside Walgreens' Deerfield headquarters on May 10.

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