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Stop & Shop Workers Strike in RI, MA, CT

Thousands of Stop & Shop workers are on strike over a contract impasse about pension and health benefits.

WARWICK — At 1 p.m. Thursday, about 31,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union at Stop & Shop grocery stores in MA, CT and RI, including three Warwick locations, went on strike as negotiations over health and pension benefits the company characterized as anti-competitive reached an impasse.

Thousands of Stop & Shop workers are on strike over a contract impasse about pension and health benefits.
Thousands of Stop & Shop workers are on strike over a contract impasse about pension and health benefits.

Stop & Shop, owned by Ahold Delhaize, headquarteredin The Netherlands, reported 29.6 percent growth of full-year underlying

earnings per share from continuing operations in February, accordingto a progressivegrocer.com report. The company reported $18.6 billion in netsales, according to the report.

In Warwick, the company has three stores, at 575 Greenwich Ave., at  275 Warwick Ave. and at 2470 Warwick Ave. UFCW Local 1445, 328, 371, 919 and 1459 are participating in the strike.

Stop& Shop’s offer, according to its statement about the talks, includes:

  • Across-the-board pay increases for allassociates – no one’s pay would be cut;
  • Continued “Gold Level” health carebenefits for eligible associates – at a fraction of what employees at otherretail companies pay and with no changes to already unusually low deductibles
  • Increased company contributions to theUFCW’s defined benefit pension fund for current full- and vested part-timeassociates – a rare benefit in the New England food retail industry.

“What thecompany has offered as a final proposal does not adequately fund our health andwelfare or pension funds, nor does it provide all employees with an opportunityto grow together with the company,” wrote Timothy M. Melia,president of UFCW Local 328 on the union’s website.

On April 9,according to UFCW Local 328 statement on their website, the union proposed acontract that:

  • Protects the pension benefits that our current and future members have earned and deserve;
  • Fully maintains health and welfare benefits for all current and future members; and
  • Provides innovative wage rates that address our members’ concerns about government mandated minimum wage increases while allowing the company to remain competitive.

“Incontrast to the company’s proposal, which is better than most recent UFCWcontract settlements and responsive to heavy non-union competition, the unionsproposed a contract that would increase the company’s costs. This would makeour company less competitive in the mostly non-union New England food retailmarketplace,” Stop & Shop said in a statement about the dispute.

“They are avery profitable company, they made billions last year in sales and profits, andthey’re trying to destroy the health benefits and pension of our hard-workingmembers,” said Jeff Bollen, president of UFCW Local 1445, in a video posted tothe union’s Facebook page.

Bollenthanked shoppers for their support and business as customers, but asked themshop elsewhere for the duration of the strike.

“Given that negotiations with assistance of the federalmediators are continuing, we are disappointed that the UFCW chose to order awork stoppage in an attempt to disrupt service at our stores. Stop & Shophas contingency plans in place to minimize disruption,” Stop & Shop statedon its website.

Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at editor@warwickpost.com with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.IF YOU CAN'T READ THIS ARTICLE, AND YOU'D LIKE TO, YOU'LL NEED TO SUBSCRIBE (TOP RIGHT MENU) FOR $1.50 PER MONTH OR $15 YEARLY, OR LOG IN.