Stop & Shop workers in more than 240 stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island walked off the job Thursday and some stores have posted temporary store hours while the strike is going on.
A statement from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union says members of Locals 371 and 919 who work at Stop & Shop in Connecticut would be walking off their job this afternoon, as will union members in Locals 328, 1445 and 1459 who work at Stop & Shop stores in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Stop and Shop said in a statement Thursday that it closed some stores, locked the doors and deployed "corporate personnel as well as temporary replacement workers" and they are working on reopening stores as soon as possible to "minimize any disruptions for our customers."
On Friday morning, signs were posted on some stores saying they would be open from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. "due to the union representing our workers calling a work stoppage."
A union representative said the strike is impacting all 90 stores in Connecticut, though stores with pharmacies are legally required to stay open.
People's United Bank said its Stop & Shop branch locations will continue to operate as usual for the duration of the strike, to the extent possible.
"Customer and employee safety is our first priority and we will continue to provide service with as minimal disruption as possible. We hope there is a quick and amicable resolution to the matter for both parties involved," the statement from People's United Bank said.
In March, union Stop & Shop workers voted during a meeting in Hartford to authorize a strike amid concerns of possible cuts to pay and benefits and many said they felt there was no choice other than to prepare to walk out.
“Our 31,000 members who work at Stop & Shop work incredibly hard to provide the great customer service that has made the company billions of dollars in profit and the top grocery store in New England. Instead of a contract that recognizes the value and hard work that our members provide every day, Stop & Shop has only proposed drastic and unreasonable cuts to health care benefits and take home pay, while replacing real customer service with more serve-yourself checkout machines,” a joint statement from the five unions says.
The action the local union took in March followed similar steps taken by the four other unions that represent the store’s workers in New England.
Stop & Shop released a statement on Thursday, saying the company is disappointed in the work stoppage.
“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,” a statement from Stop & Shop says.
The company said it has proposed “a good and reasonable offer to our union locals” that includes across-the-board pay increases for all associates, continued “Gold Level” health care benefits for eligible associates and increased company contributions to the pension fund for current full- and vested part-time associates.
“The hard-working men and women at over 240 stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are standing together to tell Stop & Shop that it is time to do the right thing. 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. They have earned and deserve a good job that allows them to do what they do best: provide the very best customer service for New England communities," a joint statement from the unions says.
Stop & Shop said the company made several suggestions to the federal mediators Thursday morning to encourage further bargaining and the mediators gave those proposals to the local unions 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.
The company said the unions “proposed a contract that would increase the company’s costs. This would make our company less competitive in the mostly non-union New England food retail marketplace.”
“What Stop & Shop workers don’t deserve, and what no one who works hard in New England deserves, are unreasonable cuts while the company they work so hard for makes billions of dollars in profits. That is wrong and it sends a terrible message to every customer who truly depends on our Stop & Shop cashiers, stockers, bakers, deli clerk, and butchers," the joint statement from the unions says.