AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Richard Trumka has called on Walgreen Co. to reform the company’s pharmacy and labor practices to protect consumers. In a letter to Walgreens CEO David Bernauer, Trumka cited a survey by the United Steelworkers International Union of Walgreens pharmacists in the Chicago and northwest Indiana area that indicates a concern over pharmacy safety. The National Pharmacists Association (NPhA), whose members participated in the survey, reports that many Walgreens pharmacists are filling in excess of 20 prescriptions per hour. Trumka is urging the board of directors to conduct a review of Walgreens pharmacy workloads and labor policies.
Commenting on this development, Michael Polzin, Walgreens spokesman, said, “Quality patient service always is our top priority. Contrary to what NPhA would have the public believe, the subject of pharmacists’ workload and its potential impact on patient safety was never raised at the bargaining table until contract negotiations had broken down and a strike was in progress. In fact, as of this date the union leadership still hasn’t made any specific contract proposals regarding this subject…. Walgreens has never asked any pharmacist to work beyond a level that he or she, in their professional judgment, believed to be safe for their patients and themselves. Our new VISION software adds an additional level of patient safety-and pharmacy resources-by enabling other Walgreens pharmacies to help process prescriptions if another location should need that assistance. VISION ensures that our pharmacies can continue to serve patient needs, even during disaster situations such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.”