CHICAGO: A pharmacist union on strike against Walgreens' Chicago-area stores has turned to local public affairs powerhouse Jasculca/Terman & Associates.
Walgreens is handling strike PR "primarily internally" but is using some outside counsel that it declined to identify, said Michael Polzin, Walgreens manager of media relations.
Walgreens has been telling the media that pharmacists are abandoning the strike in high numbers, something the union disputes.
Polzin said he would not comment on Walgreens' communication strategy as long as the strike, which began July 6, was ongoing. Talks between the two sides have broken down.
The National Pharmacists Association contends that Walgreens is understaffing its pharmacies, thereby increasing the likelihood of mistakes when dispensing medications.
The union turned to the agency on the recommendation of other unions, said Chuck Sauer, executive director of the 1,200-member association.
"They have been really great so far and just on top of things," said Sauer.
Walgreens is disputing the union's claim, insisting that staffing levels are adequate and that it's offered a new contract with a substantial pay raise for pharmacists at its 400 northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana stores.
Before the strike, the chain had been running an ad campaign highlighting its friendly pharmacists and the convenience of its locations in contrast to mail-order drug operations.