Stop & Shop workers in Massachusetts walked off the job Thursday.
According to United Food and Commercial Workers International spokeswoman Amy Ritter, employees in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island walked off their jobs Thursday afternoon.
The Union Food and Commercial Workers Local 1459 represents Stop & Shop workers said in a post on their website Wednesday that Stop & Shop has “continued to bargain in bad faith.” Federal mediators are working to get both sides to come to an agreement.
In a statement sent to 22News, Ritter said, “Today, at 1:15 pm, the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1445 members who work at Stop & Shop will be walking off their job. 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.”
Shoppers said they weren’t sure if they could enter the store Thursday. Catherine Kelly-Enko told 22News, “I really truly hate to cross a picket line, but I needed to get something in there particularly for my spaghetti sauce, but they said well there’s no one working in there. There’s no one to cash you out.”
The West Springfield store posted a sign saying they would be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with limited service due to ongoing efforts to reach a fair contract. Inside, only the self-checkout lines were open, and lines were forming.
Shopper Elizabeth Lopez said, “It doesn’t seem like it usually seems with a lot of people in there and working together. No, there aren’t that many people in the store.”
Stop & Shop said in a statement sent to 22News, “Given that negotiations with 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.”
Stop & Shop said they proposed a reasonable offer to the union that included across-the-board pay increases for all associates, so no one’s pay would be cut, continued “Gold Level” health care benefits for eligible associates, and with no changes to deductibles, and increased company contributions to the UFCW’s defined benefit pension fund for current full- and vested part-time associates.
Stop & Shop also said “Additionally, this (Thursday) morning the company made several suggestions to the federal mediators to encourage further bargaining. The mediators gave those proposals to the Locals late in the morning. The Locals provided no counter proposals to the mediators and simply stated they were proceeding with their plans.”
Stop & Shop said they remain ready and available to meet with the union locals at any time.
UFCW represents 31,000 Stop & Shop workers in New England. They have been negotiating a new contract with Stop & Shop representatives since February 14.
22News is continuing to cover this story and will update you as soon as information is available.