‘What if your mother or grandmother needs a prescription?’: Possible Walgreens walkout troubles customers

Katherine Mera stopped by her local Walgreens in Montgomery County, Maryland, after a doctor’s appointment, expecting to have her prescription filled, like she always does.

She tells WTOP she was surprised to be asked to come back 45 minutes later — and a pharmacist acknowledged that she was checking to see whether her co-workers would join a planned walkout on Monday, over staffing issues.

“I said ‘Ma’am, you’re still working now is that correct? Then could you please expedite my prescription,” Mera recalled.

Mera said she wasn’t aware that some Walgreens pharmacies could be affected, if employees walked out.

“I didn’t hear of Walgreens going on strike until she told me,” she said.

A Walgreens corporate spokesman told USA Today a small number of pharmacies nationally are experiencing disruptions.

“We apologize for any inconvenience. We are working to return these pharmacies to regular operations as quickly as possible. Nearly all of our 9,000 locations continue to serve our patients and customers.”

In September, CVS pharmacists had walked out over similar concerns about staffing levels and resources to allow them to do their jobs safely.

In a statement to USA Today, Walgreens acknowledged that the last few years have been challenging for staff, and required an “unprecedented effort” to provide vaccines, fill prescriptions and perform health screenings during the pandemic.

“I understand the circumstances, but there’s a human side of everything,” Mera said. “What if it’s your mother or grandmother that needs a prescription?”

Organizers of the walkout say it could last through Wednesday.

WTOP has been seeking comment from Walgreen’s corporate communications office.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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