Negotiations Continue As Stop & Shop Strike Reaches Day 5

Striking employees are scheduled to receive pay checks on Wednesday, the last of their pay until they return to work.

Negotiations between Stop & Shop and the UFCW local unions continued Monday, five days after workers first walked off the job and onto the picket line at all 90 stores in Connecticut.

Striking employees are scheduled to receive paychecks on Wednesday.

“That’s it,” said Denise Tartaglia on the picket line outside the Whalley Avenue store. “We don’t get another one until we go back to work.”

While some stores are staying open with minimal staff, the Whalley Avenue Stop & Shop in New Haven is closed except for the People’s United Bank.

“I helped bring Stop & Shop to the community because after Shaw’s closed we didn’t have any grocery store to shop,” Helen C. Powell told NBC Connecticut.

Now, Powell is joining more than 31,000 employees on strike against Stop & Shop in Southern New England.

“I’m not thinking about myself,” she said, “I’m thinking about my coworkers and my other neighbors surrounding this area.”

In this New Haven neighborhood, there isn’t another large supermarket nearby.

“A lot of my customers they don’t have the means of transportation to go out to other stores that may be three miles to five miles away from here, so there’s a lot of people in the community going without food right now,” said Julian Harris, who works as a meat and deli clerk at the Whalley Avenue store.

In other cities and towns like North Haven, shoppers don’t have to go far to find an alternative to Stop & Shop.

The parking Monday afternoon at the Big Y on Washington Avenue was packed compared to the many empty spots outside the Stop & Shop down the road.

“They should be parking the overflow in Stop & Shop,” Tartaglia said when NBC Connecticut showed her pictures.

Normally, Cathy Conklin from Hamden doesn’t shop at Big Y.

“I do my grocery shopping at Stop & Shop in Hamden and stop and shop in North Haven,” she said.

But Conklin explained she refuses to cross the picket line.

“I don’t want any of their benefits to be cut, if anything they should be getting an increase in benefits because of the increases in prices,” she said.

Ross Prinz is a regular Big Y customer. He said he noticed longer lines than normal on a Monday afternoon.

“It’s normally one person but they have more people in here working so that helps,” he said.

At the entrance to the North Haven Stop & Shop, customers were greeted by employee Jackie Zampaglione saying with a bullhorn, “do not shop today until we’re back inside that would be wonderful.”

Zampaglione said she’s worked at that store for a dozen years.

“We do flowers, we do funerals, we do weddings, we do deli platters, we celebrate with them, we service them every day,” she said, “so they are supporting us which is wonderful we thank every single one of them.”

Zampaglione said she is willing to stay on strike “as long as we have to.”

“They are negotiating,” she said. “We are positive that its going in the right direction we need to do this for today and for the future kids that ready to come in this door and work.”

At the Whalley Avenue store, Powell said she recognizes the inconvenience of the strike for some Stop & Shop customers in her community.

“I feel sorry for the young mothers they need Pampers, they need formula,” she said, “you got to go to the corner store.”

NBC Connecticut reached out to Stop & Shop to see what might happen to the food in its stores during the strike.

“Regarding food, we are working with our regional food bank partners, as well as local food pantries, to donate as much food as possible to our neighbors in need,” a Stop & Shop spokesperson replied.

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