Following weeks of negotiations on a new contract, 31,000 Stop & Shop employees have walked out and announced they will be going on strike in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The two sides have been working for weeks to try and hammer out a new deal, though some UCFW union officials said that Stop & Shop operated in “bad faith.” As recently as Tuesday, April 9, the two sides were still exchanging proposals and attempting to find a middle ground.
“Today, at 1:15 pm, (on April 11) the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1445 members who work at Stop & Shop will be walking off their job,’’ the United Food and Commercial Workers union said in a statement. “At the same time, UFCW Members at Locals 328, 371, 919, and 1459 will be walking off their jobs at Stop & Shop stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.’’
The UCFW union leaders also asked the customers to follow suit, stating that “(they’re) asking shoppers to help them out and shop someplace else until the strike is over. There has also been picket lines at some Stop & Shop locations in New England.
“Thanks to your hard work, Stop & Shop has become the top supermarket operator in New England and its parent company, Ahold Delhaize, made over $2 billion in profits in 2018,” union leaders wrote in a letter to employees prior to Thursday’s strike.. “It’s time for Stop & Shop to acknowledge the full value of the hard-working women and men who have made it so successful. Which is why our proposal is not just reasonable and the right thing to do, it’s the most responsible.”
The strike has been looming for more than a month, with union officials saying that healthcare is at the center of the issue, namely how much money employees contribute to their insurance premiums. Other concerns included pension benefits and the rise of automation at Stop & Shop locations.
In a statement, Stop & Shop said: "Given those negotiations with the assistance of the federal mediators are continuing, we are disappointed that the UFCW chose to order a work stoppage in an attempt to disrupt service at our stores. “Stop & Shop has contingency plans in place to minimize disruption." The company previously said it would hire temporary workers to keep stores open in the event of a strike.
According to Stop & Shop’s statement, they “remain ready and available to meet with the union locals at any time. We are committed to good faith bargaining and hope to reach new contracts as quickly as possible that both recognize and reward the great work of our associates and enable Stop & Shop to compete effectively in the rapidly changing New England grocery market."
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