Stop & Shop Strike Ends, ‘Tentative’ Agreement Reached
Back to work on Monday morning, April 22, were union staff of Stop & Shop in Newtown, as well supermarket chain employees in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, who had been picketing outside the stores starting in the early afternoon of April 11.
Failed negotiations between Unionized UFCW locals and Stop & Shop regarding work contracts had prompted the strike.
Rocco Bandino, Stop & Shop manager in Sand Hill Plaza, said on Monday, “All we can really say is they settled [Sunday, April 21], and we’re back to work to put things back together and serve customers again.”
The day was “going very well,” he added.
The store, at 228 South Main Street, had returned to its regular hours, 6 am to 10 pm, in all departments.
External Communications Manager Stefanie Shuman offered the following on April 22: “Our associates’ top initial priority will be restocking and preparing our stores so we can take great care of our customers and provide them with the service and selection they deserve. We deeply appreciate the patience and understanding of our customers during this time and look forward to welcoming everyone back.
“We will defer to the unions to communicate the details of the tentative agreements but can say that they include: increased pay for all associates; continued excellent health coverage for eligible associates; and ongoing defined benefit pension benefits for all eligible associates,” she added.
Governor Ned Lamont and Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz on Monday, April 22, released the following joint statement regarding the tentative agreement between Stop & Shop’s management and its employees:
“We are proud of the women and men of the United Food and Commercial Workers who fought for what they deserve. These are good jobs that provide fair wages, good benefits, and a secure retirement that are critical to the success of Connecticut’s families. It was great to see so much backing from the community in support of the workers who are simply trying to support their families and earn an honest living. Now, the 31,000 hardworking store clerks, associates, and meat cutters can get back to doing what they love — serving their customers and communities.
“We know that the bargaining process is not easy, but this is a win for the workers, for management, and for Stop & Shop’s customers.”
Stop & Shop’s website, on a page dedicated to the strike and updates, on April 21 stated in part, “We are very pleased to announce Stop & Shop has reached fair new tentative agreements with UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445, and 1459, which represent our 31,000 associates in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. We’re also glad to have our associates return to work, as the strike has ended.”
A message to consumers on the website also stated: “You may have heard about or been affected by the strike that occurred in our Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island stores. We’ve reached a tentative agreement with the unions, and the strike is over. Thank you for your patience, your understanding, and for sticking with us. We are now working quickly to restock our stores to provide you with the products and service you deserve.”
Stop & Shop staff members statewide and locally went on strike at 1 pm Thursday afternoon, April 11. Store employees in Newtown that Thursday afternoon, picketed outside the store, letting the public know their complaints. Employees in Newtown are part of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 371 AFL-CIO and UFCW Local 919.
Wallingford resident and Newtown store staff member Michael Theise was among a group of picketers as of April 11 carrying signs saying “On Strike Against Stop & Shop” and “Unfair Labor Practices.”
Healthcare, pension, and raises were among the main issues of those picketing, Mr Theise said. Noting that the Stop & Shop corporation makes a large profit, Mr Thiese added then that the company “now doesn’t want to give us anything. It’s corporate greed.”
He knows of employees “who have been here for more than 40 years. I earned my pension, and I don’t think Stop & Shop should mess with it.”
The problems are a statewide issue, Mr Theise said at the time.
The union’s three-year work contract expired on February 24.
Picketers in Newtown had handed out flyers with the message, “Tell Stop & Shop: Cuts to Workers Are Cuts to Us All.” The flyers also stated: “We want to make sure that every Stop & Shop customer hears and knows the truth: Stop & Shop’s plans will have a terrible effect on 31,000 hardworking employees and the customer service they are able to provide.”
Stop & Shop Statements
The Stop & Shop website offered information leading up to and then during the union strike, including, “Pay increases for all associates. Stop & Shop’s proposed wage package would be among the best UFCW retail contracts in the country. It also includes no changes to Sunday time-and-a-half premiums for current or future full-time associates, and current Sunday premium dollar amounts for current part-time associates.”
The site continued, “Excellent healthcare coverage for eligible associates. Stop & Shop would pay at least 92 [percent] of health premiums for family coverage and at least 88 [percent] for individual coverage — much more than what other large retail employers pay. Associates would pay only $2 to $4 more per week each year for premiums and would see no increase in their already low deductibles.”
Additional information was also available regarding pensions and vacation pay.
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