Pharmacy staff at some Walgreens stores locked their gates and walked out Monday, citing harsh working conditions that make it difficult to safely fill prescriptions.

CNN confirmed pharmacy closures at some Walgreens locations in Arizona, Washington, Massachusetts and Oregon, and pharmacy staff and customers are posting to social media that other closures are taking place throughout the country.

Heres what you need to know.

Whats happening?

Pharmacists, technicians and support staff are planning walkouts from Monday through Wednesday, an organizer who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution, confirmed to CNN.

Some stores are remaining open with a skeleton emergency crew an organizer told CNN that Walgreens had asked regional leaders to mobilize and staff the pharmacies on Monday.

Many pharmacies that are open are severely understaffed as the majority of their employees called out today. Some stores said they were able to operate only their drive-thru pharmacy Monday and others said they would be closing early due to a lack of staff.

Walgreens told CNN in a statement that a small number of our pharmacies are experiencing disruptions and we apologize for any inconvenience. Walgreens said it is working to return these pharmacies to regular operations as quickly as possible, adding that the vast majority of pharmacies remain open.

Still, regional Walgreens leadership is struggling to keep some locations functioning on the West Coast. In a text message thread reviewed by CNN, managers reported a flurry of pharmacy closures and asked for extra coverage to stay open. Some managers reported receiving calls encouraging them to participate in the walkouts and others issues warnings to their staff against speaking to the media.

A Walgreens representative said on Monday that the company understands the immense pressures felt across the US in retail pharmacy right now, and that they are are engaged and listening to the concerns raised by some of our team members.

Unlike the WGA and United Auto Worker strikes, there is no union leader to coordinate and publicly address the movement. Instead, pharmacy employees are using platforms like Reddit and Facebook, as well as email and fliers, to plan walkouts.

Without a central organizing body, it is also difficult to confirm how many pharmacies will be closed. Organizers told CNN they had heard from well over 500 interested stores (out of approximately 9,000) across the country. Walgreens did not immediately respond to questions about the exact number of pharmacy closures.

Why theyre walking out

Pharmacy staff are burned out.

A survey conducted last year by the American Pharmacists Association and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, found that pharmacy staff are inundated with demands for prescriptions, shots and other services without sufficient or sufficiently trained staff to fulfill the orders. Meanwhile, they complain that they face harassment and bullying by some patients.

The survey also found that pharmacy workers say management focuses too much on profit, facing constant disruptions to their workflow that prevent them from making decisions about how appropriate a treatment might be for a particular patient.

And when pharmacy workers take their complaints to management, theyve fallen on deaf ears, the survey found.

There is no open mechanism for pharmacists and pharmacy personnel to discuss workplace issues with supervisors and management; if they try, the discussion is not welcomed or heard, the groups wrote.

Some CVS and Walgreens employees told CNN that a new focus on vaccinations added to their workload and made it more difficult to focus on filling prescriptions or customer care.

Its a hard job on a good day. Its an incredibly rewarding job, but its hard, said Amanda Applegate, the interim executive director of the Kansas Pharmacists Association. And so the idea of pharmacists essentially being turned into ATMs in these environments, encouraging volume over quality, is why this is happening.

Why it matters

Pharmacy employees are essential healthcare workers

Wolters Kluwers Pharmacy Next survey found that 58% of Americans are likely to first seek non-emergency healthcare at pharmacies. More than 80% said they trust a pharmacist, nurse, or nurse practitioner to diagnose minor illnesses and prescribe medications to treat them.

Pharmacies are becoming a front-line site for non-emergency care, particularly among younger generations, said Dr. Peter Bonis, the chief medical officer at Wolters Kluwer Health.

CVS pharmacists also walked off the job

CVS recently had a walkout and talks are not over.

In September, CVS pharmacists in the Kansas City area closed as many as 22 pharmacies in two walkouts over two weeks in a planned protest, prompting executives to meet with staff and assure them that additional support and higher overtime pay were coming.

Pharmacists are doing exactly what theyve been trained to do, which is evaluate the situation and take whatever action is necessary to ensure that theyre providing the best patient care, said Michael Hogue, CEO of the American Pharmacists Association, who traveled to Kansas City to meet with CVS executives and walkout organizers last week. We have a widespread problem in the United States of inadequate staffing in community-based pharmacies.

In an internal memo reviewed by CNN, Prem Shah, CVSs chief pharmacy officer and president of pharmacy and consumer wellness, apologized to his Kansas City-based pharmacy teams for failing to address their concerns in a more timely manner.

Another meeting with Shah is planned for late this week, but no time or location has been set, a CVS walkout organizer told CNN.

CVS representatives told CNN that no specific talks have been scheduled because executives dont see this as a one-time meeting or update its a continuous two-way dialogue to share how were meeting the commitments we made to our teams and to continue to hear their direct feedback, said Amy Thibault, lead director of external communications for CVS Pharmacy.

A lead organizer of the CVS walkouts in Kansas City told CNN that if there is no meeting this week there could be another round of labor action.

What next?

Walgreens and CVS say theyre working with pharmacy staff to fix the situation.

In a statement to CNN, Walgreens acknowledged that pharmacy employees are overworked.

The last few years have required an unprecedented effort from our team members, and we share their pride in this work while recognizing it has been a very challenging time, said Fraser Engerman, a spokesman for Walgreens. We also understand the immense pressures felt across the US in retail pharmacy right now. We are engaged and listening to the concerns raised by some of our team members.

Walgreens is committed to ensuring that our entire pharmacy team has the support and resources necessary to continue to provide the best care to our patients while taking care of their own well-being, added Engerman. We are making significant investments in pharmacist wages and hiring bonuses to attract/retain talent in harder to staff locations.

Similarly, CVS told CNN that the company is committed to providing access to consistent, safe, high-quality health care to the patients and communities we serve and are working with our pharmacists to directly address any concerns they may have.

The company is focused on developing a sustainable, scalable action plan that can be put in place in markets where support may be needed so we can continue delivering the high-quality care our patients depend on, a representative said.