Stop & Shop workers are prepared to go on strike. On Sunday, union members in Connecticut joined others across New England ready to take that step.
Though for now, negotiations are still underway.
“It’s not fair at all what the company wants to do,” Flora Urbano of West Haven said.
On Sunday at a meeting in Hartford, Stop & Shop workers voted to authorize a strike amid concerns of possible cuts to pay and benefits.
“It’s garbage. I mean we’re here for a reason,” Rachel Disciglio of Essex said.
Disciglio says she started working part-time at the grocery store when she was 16 years old.
“We made the company what it is. And this is how they want to treat us," she said.
Disciglio is among the company’s 7,500 workers in the state.
With their contract up weeks ago, many felt there was no other choice than to prepare to walk out.
“At any time we can call one now. That’s the whole point of an authorization,” UFCW Local 919 President Mark Espinosa said. “The company does very well. This company has earned their money of the backs of the workers.”
Sunday’s action follows similar steps taken by the four other unions that represent the store’s workers in New England.
In response, Stop & Shop says it’s facing growing competition which has lower labor costs.
A spokesperson wrote in part: “Stop & Shop is the only large fully unionized supermarket remaining in New England, and our full-time associates are among the industry’s highest paid. We are working hard to reach strong new contracts that will continue to provide highly competitive wages, comprehensive health care coverage and, unlike any other area food retailers, a defined benefit pension.”
The union says the last strike for Stop & Shop workers was about 30 years ago.
Michaele Morales was there for the previous one and is hopeful it can be avoided now.
“They’re going to lose a lot of money if we go on strike, more than if they give us what’s fair,” Morales said.
It’s now up to union leaders whether to call a strike.
More negotiations between the unions and the company are scheduled for later this week.