Walgreens to close Orlando distribution center, lay off hundreds

Employees are expected to be laid off in May

Walgreens, the second-largest pharmacy chain the United States, plans to close one of its distribution centers in Orlando and lay off the facility's 324 employees, according to a notice the company filed with the state Department of Commerce last week.

As explanation for the closure, the company's senior counsel cited a need to "help build business momentum" and "improve the efficiency of our operations."

The company "anticipated" providing all affected Orlando employees with a 60-day notice of their layoff on March 14, the same day the company notified the state.

Layoffs at the Orlando distribution center, located at 2455 Premier Row, will begin on or about May 17, 2024, the notice reads.  It adds that employees will receive their full compensation and benefits until they're laid off, or until they resign (whichever comes first).

As an extra jab, the notice clarifies that none of the Orlando employees are represented by a union.  Walgreens pharmacy workers in other parts of the country have either sought to unionize or have unionized with the backing of the United Food & Commercial Workers and the Machinists union.

Last fall, staff of Walgreens pharmacies across the country organized scattered walkouts in protest of issues such as burnout and heavy workloads that they said created safety issues.

The Orlando closure isn't unique. Walgreens has announced layoffs elsewhere over the last year, including layoffs involving hundreds of corporate employees and workers at other distribution centers in Killingly, Connecticut, and Edwardsville, Illinois. An estimated 150 Walgreens stores were also reportedly on the chopping block last year.

According to Forbes, the chain has faced financial strains, reporting more than $3 billion dollars in losses in fiscal year 2023, with losses in part attributed to litigation involving the company's role in the opioid epidemic.

Walgreens also faced an abrupt departure of its CEO last year, who'd been on the job less than three years by the time she left. In October, Reuters reported the company planned to cut $1 billion in costs in 2024.
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McKenna Schueler

News reporter for Orlando Weekly, with a focus on state and local government, workers' rights, and housing issues. Previously worked for WMNF Radio in Tampa. You can find her bylines in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, In These Times, Strikewave, and Facing South among other publications.
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