Header Image

Campaign Updates

| Improving Job Quality

For Workers, Walgreens is a Prescription for Disaster

CPDAction names drugstore chain “Worst Employer” in national contest


NEW YORK – Looks like Walgreens needs some first aid of its own. 

Thousands of people across the country chose the drugstore chain as the 'worst employer' among eight of America's most recognizable brands such as Whole Foods and Pizza Hut.

Walgreens emerged as the winner of the first-ever Worst Employer Pageant, an online contest launched in January by Center for Popular Democracy Action to highlight the poor treatment of workers by large employers. Walgreens won 68 percent of the votes against CVS. About 4,700 total votes were cast in the online contest. (A link can be found here.)

This should come as no surprise since the drugstore chain has been accused of a slew of labor issues. CEO Stefano Pessina earns 540 times the median worker pay, while cashiers are paid a mere $9 per hour on average – or just under $18,000 every year. The company also “promotes” hourly employees to salaried positions that often involve longer hours and no chance at overtime – resulting in overall wages that can be lower hour by hour.

The Worst Employer Pageant looked at eight companies in four categories that Americans use regularly – banks, supermarkets, drug stores, and pizza chains – examining metrics such as a poor CEO to median worker pay ratio, employee lawsuits, and failure to pay minimum wage and overtime. Other companies nominated included Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Sam’s Club, Whole Foods, CVS, Papa John’s, and Yum! Brands, owner of Pizza Hut.

Ranking behind Walgreens were Papa John’s and Sam’s Club, both of whom have also been accused of a variety of labor violations. Papa John’s has paid millions in settlements to delivery and other workers who were cheated out of their wages, while Sam’s Club was charged with a $151 million lawsuit for forcing employees to work off-the-clock.

JoEllen Chernow, Director of Economic Justice at CPD Action, released the following statement:

“Walgreens needs a dose of its own medicine when it comes to how it treats its workers – and people are taking notice. The votes of thousands are testament to the fact that a company’s morals are no longer a side issue – they increasingly define where Americans eat, shop, and spend their leisure time. Walgreens and other bad actors should take this so-called “award” as a sign that their labor policies are due for a checkup. Consumers are watching and will continue to make their voices heard until all employees get a fair share.”


CPDAction and sister organization Center for Popular Democracy promotes equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with innovative base-building organizations, organizing networks and alliances, and progressive unions across the country. CPD builds the strength and capacity of democratic organizations to envision and advance a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial justice agenda. 


Asya Pikovsky, apikovsky@populardemocracy.org, 207-522-2442

Anita Jain, ajain@populardemocracy.org, 347-636-9761