CVS: 250 Rhode Island layoffs include entry-level to senior positions

(Photo Courtesy: Amy Lanctot)
(Photo Courtesy: Amy Lanctot)

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Hundreds of CVS Health employees in Rhode Island and several other states are learning Thursday they no longer have a job.

The Woonsocket-based company announced it’s laying off 600 workers, including 250 in Rhode Island. Layoffs will affect workers from entry-level jobs all the way up to senior management, according to Senior Communications Director Mike DeAngelis.

The layoffs are primarily at the company’s corporate facilities in Rhode Island, Illinois, and Arizona.

“Following a thorough evaluation process, we have determined that changing market dynamics and the increasingly competitive environment require us to operate as a more lean and efficient organization,” DeAngelis said in a statement. “CVS Health is committed to Rhode Island and we are proud to be part of this community.”

DeAngelis said CVS employs more than 240,000 people across the country and more than 7,600 people in Rhode Island.

Photo: Madeleine Wright | WPRI 12
Photo: Madeleine Wright | WPRI 12

He said the company will work closely with affected workers, who will have the opportunity to apply for other positions within CVS Health.

Those who are not placed in another position “will be eligible to receive a transition package to cover financial and health benefits, outplacement support and career counseling.”

CVS Health has grown into one of the largest companies in the country, ranking 7th-biggest on this year’s Fortune 500 list. The company posted an operating profit of $9.5 billion on $153 billion in sales last year.

“Each of those 247 workers is a person. And we empathize with each of them,” said Mike Healey, a spokesperson for the Department of Labor and Training.

The state DLT director said his office will provide “rapid response” services to those affected by the layoffs and would be visiting the headquarters soon to work with employees.

“The Department of Labor and Training is here to help CVS workers affected by the layoffs however we can,” said Scott Jensen, DLT director. “Through Rapid Response, DLT can provide information about re-employment services and possible training opportunities, address workers’ individual needs, and offer information about income support programs such as Unemployment Insurance.”

Eyewitness News also spoke to Timothy Howes, a business professor at Johnson & Wales University. He wasn’t surprised by the layoffs, citing a competitive market with other industry giants like Walgreens, which plans to acquire Rite-Aid. While CVS didn’t mention Walgreens specifically, their statement Thursday said an “increasingly competitive environment” led to the decision to lay off employees.

Howes said the overall effect on Rhode Island’s economy will depend on the types of positions eliminated.

“If they’re more senior positions, I think that’s going to have a greater impact on Rhode Island’s economy than if they’re more entry-level jobs,” Howes said. He said that’s because people with entry-level jobs should be able to find new jobs in their salary range more easily than those with higher salaries. Plus, people in senior management positions tend to have more discretionary income to spend in the economy, but may not be doing so after losing their jobs.

CVS did not provide a breakdown of which positions were being eliminated, but said they range from entry-level to vice presidents.

Eyewitness News reached out to Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, who confirmed she had been briefed about the layoffs but deferred any further questions to CVS Health Corporate Office.