Supermarket Strike: Stop & Shop workers protest over contract dispute
More than 50 workers stood outside the Stop & Shop in Wareham after 1 p.m. on Thursday, holding signs reading “On Strike.” Frustrated by contract negotiations, they and thousands of store employees across New England walked off the job.
Representing a total of 31,000 workers, five New England United Food & Commercial Workers locals, including UFCW Local 328, which includes the workers at the Wareham store, have been without a contract since late February.
The negotiations surround wages and benefits for workers from five unions. According to UFCW Local 328 press releases and news updates, Stop & Shop presented a “final offer” to employees earlier in the week.
According to the release, the company’s latest proposal includes cuts the union finds unacceptable, including reductions in pension benefits and annual wage increases.
The proposed contract would cut the monthly pension benefit for many newly hired full-time employees by 32 percent, and many part-time employees would receive a general wage increase of less than two percent. Both full and part-time employees would see increases in their health care premiums.
“Stop & Shop continues to push for broad cuts to health care, take-home pay, and retirement benefits that are simply unreasonable,” the statement read.
During the protest, one worker said she is a single mother of three children who has been working for Stop & Shop for 16 years. She said that she relies on the job to support her family, maintain healthcare for herself and her children, and because of the pension.
Another worker addressed the half-empty parking lot, which she said was filled mostly with the protesters’ cars.
The store remains open but with very limited services, according to one worker.
In its statement posted to its website, Stop & Shop officials said they had proposed a “good and reasonable offer to our local unions,” which, according to the statement, included pay increases for all associates, “Gold Level” health care benefits, and increased contributions to the UFCW’s pension fund.
“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,” the company statement read.