Incoming Walgreens CEO Tim Wentworth, set to take over on Oct. 23, briefly praised the company’s pharmacy staff during an earnings call but made no mention of the recent three-day protest walkouts by employees over poor working conditions. The walkouts highlight rising dissatisfaction among pharmacy workers, who have long complained about understaffing and burdensome work expectations. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these issues, stretching employees even thinner with new duties such as testing and vaccinations. Wentworth faces various challenges, including labor pressures, a profit squeeze due to declining demand for COVID products, and Walgreens’ transition from a major drugstore chain to a larger healthcare company.
During the earnings call, Wentworth shared a story about an employee in Rochester, New York, who helped deliver a critical medication prescription for his mother. While praising committed pharmacists and team members, he emphasized the collective effort to improve the lives of everyone visiting Walgreens stores. Wentworth’s remarks echoed the company’s earlier statement responding to the walkouts, acknowledging the team’s tireless efforts in the face of unprecedented challenges.
It remains unclear whether Walgreens management has made any changes in response to employees’ demands, including more staff, payroll transparency, advance notice of staff and schedule changes, and mandatory training for new hires. In addition to filling prescriptions, pharmacy employees must handle various tasks such as administering vaccines, conducting COVID and flu testing, working with insurance companies, and managing customer concerns related to longer wait times due to understaffing. Wentworth’s leadership will be crucial in addressing these challenges and steering Walgreens through its ongoing transformation in the healthcare landscape.