Friday, 26 April, 2019


Stop & Shop employees go on strike

Catherine Velez who is a Stop & Shop Peapod employee joined her coworkers in East Hartford Connecticut as they went on strike against the company on Thursday View Slideshow
Conrad Doyle | 13 April, 2019, 06:14

"Stop & Shop is trying to eliminate time-and-a-half pay for a large number of workers who have volunteered to work on Sunday, including any and all new employees. Better contract, better lives!"

Stop & Shop workers in southern New England walked off the job Thursday, after more than 31,000 employees last month authorized their labor leaders to call for a work stoppage amid increasingly strained contract negotiations.

She spoke by phone Thursday from a picket line outside the store.

Standing with shop steward Scott Levine, Scott Barry, a union representative who works in the produce department at the 1235 Farmington Ave. location, said it was "a combination of circumstances all together that got it to this point".

"Be a jerk, we won't work".

The two sides have been far apart on wages and benefits for a new contract to replace one that expired in February.

According to an April 6 post on the union's website, "Despite some slight progress being made during contract negotiations, the company is still proposing unreasonable cuts that could impact us all".

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1445 members and 15,000 coworkers across MA are striking over what Local President Jeff Bollen said is Stop & Shop's push for "major concessions" in worker pension and health plans and holiday and sick time provisions.

West Hartford resident Carolyn Lind speaks with Scott Barry, a striking worker at the Farmington Avenue Stop & Shop about the strike and store being closed.

Negotiations have been complex, largely because of factors specific to our region and industry - fierce competition from non-union retailers, new state mandates on minimum wage and paid sick leave, and increased costs related to health and retirement benefits.

Stop & Shop's most recent proposal would also require the average full-time employee to pay an additional $893 and the average part-time employee with employee-only coverage to pay an additional $603 in weekly health care premiums over three years.

Catherine Velez stood at the curb's edge out front of the East Hartford store.

The union feels the company has been bargaining in bad faith.

Many drivers honked their vehicle horns in support as they passed by on Boulevard or Farmington Avenue.

"One good job should be enough for New England workers".

Customer Mikylya Akers of Lynn said she likes Stop & Shop for its regular shopping deals and courteous employees. They anxious about how their mother's health care and pension would be affected by a new contract, especially as she nears retirement.

Union officials said in March that action was imminent after the chain offered its latest proposal, but they didn't say when such a strike might occur.

"We're asking you to help us out and shop someplace else until the strike is over", he said. "A lot of people at this store live paycheck to paycheck", she said.

The union hasn't indicated how long workers could remain on strike.

"The men and women who make Stop & Shop a success have earned and deserve affordable health care, a good wage, and the ability to retire with dignity", the leaders of five locals said in an emailed statement.

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