I think we need to learn algebra because it will be used beyond math class. Scientists use it every day and if you take any chemistry or physics classes, you'll definitely need those skills to solve the problems in those courses. We have seen that a student's math ACT scores correlate strongly with their grades in chemistry courses. While this doesn't indicate causation, that's enough of an argument for me to encourage students.
As a chemistry teacher, I spend almost as much time helping students with math concepts as I do with chemistry. Students who have better math skills (which can only come for most people through regular practice) have an easier time understanding topics in chemistry even if no math is involved.