If you're worried about the progressive degradation of working conditions, Matt Stoller's excellent piece on the #PizzaIsNotWorking uprising among pharmarcy staff at major U.S. chains like CVS and Walgreens won't make you feel any better. Chain pharmacies have become gigantic--CVS alone has nearly 10,000 stores across America and employes 300,000 people. And while they've never been known as workplace nirvanas, Matt's article shows that the frustration of pharmacy staff has reached a boiling point:
Curious to learn more, I visited some of the Reddit pages covering these companies (discussions seems to be driven mostly by staff or ex-staff members) and boy, was I in for a ride. For instance, this is the summary of yesterday's hot posts on CVS's page 👀
The vast majority of posts are complaining about chronic under-staffing, long hours of continous grinding with little scope for discretion, and unsympathetic (and even toxic) management. Here's are a few rerepsentative posts:
To be sure, some of the workplace issues like being short staffed and dealing with an unusually high workload have been exacerbated by Covid and the tight labor market. But many of these employee complaints have been floating around Reddit, Glassdoor, and similar sites for years. And as we've argued in our book, this is a widespread issue:
Throughout the pandemic, service workers have deservedly been the recipients of appreciation & gratitude. But aside from rhetoric and palliative tokens (along with targeted pay increases for some), their daily work experience doesn't seem to have gotten any better.
This is sad, but not particular surprising -- many organizations still operate with the assumption that people are expendable resources. But this isn't 1921-- it's 2021, for crying out loud! It's not only morally questionable, but also economically myopic. How come we're ok with this?
PS: I'm deeply impressed by Bled Marchall Tanoe, the organizer of the #PizzaIsNotWorking rebellion. She's in an immigrant from the Ivory Coast who works as a pharmacist in Oklahoma City. Tanoe runs a Facebook group with 45,600 members that gives voice to the rampant frustration among pharmacists and provides peer support. This group encompasses tens of thousands of people and is making some waves. If we want to make real progress in creating more human-centric organizations, we need more Bled Marchall Tanoes.