The Southern Workers Assembly received the following statement from a group of pharmacy workers that support the movement for a strike at Walgreens and CVS from October 30 to November 1. The SWA stands in solidarity with the workers at these chains and beyond that are fighting for a better life for pharmacy workers. The struggle at Walgreens and CVS is in the interest of the entire working class — including all of the working people that depend on overworked, hard-pressed pharmacy workers to safely fill their prescriptions and provide them with vaccinations and other needed health services. Ultimately, it is through worker organization, collective power, and class struggle that we will be able to force the bosses to grant major concessions — and create a better workplace, a better life, and a better world for our class. Solidarity with Walgreens and CVS workers!
“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop…” — Mario Savio
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacies have taken on significant responsibilities for public health which were unprecedented up until that crisis. Healthcare workers have been stretched to their limits trying to provide care in a system which incentivizes cutting corners, overextending staff, and pushing the boundaries of safety in the aim of maximizing profits and revenue. The current system of healthcare is not sustainable financially, socially, or ethically; the United States and its residents spend more money than any other country to achieve outcomes which are below many of its economic peers. We continue to face racial, gender, and ethnic inequality in healthcare which has been ongoing for decades. The workers who choose to work within this system have been driven to take drastic action to address the shortcomings of the U.S. healthcare machine; nurses, physicians, and other healthcare staff have formed unions, participated in various strikes, and led other direct action campaigns. Such struggles have had noticeable effects on many private and public healthcare institutions and have forced change when it otherwise would not have come.
Now, it is time for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and those laborers who work in solidarity with them to stand up and be counted among those willing to fight against a system which is unsustainable. From October 30 to November 1, staff at Walgreens and CVS will participate in an informal walkout in protest of perpetually understaffed workplaces, excessive workload and responsibilities, and pressure from management to meet unachievable expectations. These issues affect our ability to properly and safely care for the patients who entrust us with their health and wellbeing.
In short, our desires are simple and altogether reasonable: we desire a competitive wage for pharmacy technicians, adequate staffing of pharmacists and technicians in critical pharmacies which are struggling to perform their duties in a safe and timely manner for our patients, additional support staff for seasonal duties such as vaccination, and a change in workplace culture to prioritize safety. These accommodations can be implemented at any time and there exists the means to enact them. We implore those able to make these changes to act expediently and durably, lest the system collapse under the weight of shortsighted greed.