Stop and Shop is the largest grocery store chain in the Northeast and where I usually shop unless I want to signify my class status by paying 50% more at Whole Foods which I never want to do. Yesterday, its workers in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, organized in the United Food and Commercial Workers, walked off the job. It’s a big strike, with 31,000 people out, which is probably the largest private sector strike in the U.S. since the Verizon strike in 2016. And it’s for good reason too, as the parent company–which made over $2 billion last year–is asking for huge givebacks on health care.
More than 30,000 grocery store employees in the northeastern US are refusing to return to work for the second day in a row.
Cashiers and deli workers at Stop & Shop supermarkets walked off the job Thursday afternoon at 240 stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, saying the supermarket chain is trying to slash their pay by hiking health insurance premiums and lowering pension benefits for new employees.
The workers have been negotiating new jobs contracts with the company since January, according to their labor unions, which are part of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union International. Workers want their paychecks to get larger, not smaller, they say, especially now that Stop & Shop’s profits are growing faster than before.
“They’re a billion-dollar company because of us,” one associate, who was picketing with coworkers outside a Stop & Shop in Middletown, Connecticut, said Friday in a video posted on Facebook by the local union. “We’re out here striking and protesting to show what’s fair and what’s right.”
The company offered across-the-board pay raises, but union reps say the jump in health care premiums and deductibles for employees would end up costing them more than they would get from any pay bump. Stop & Shop executives disagree, saying their latest proposal won’t increase deductibles, and that all workers will end up with larger paychecks.
I swung by my local Stop and Shop–which sadly still had a lot of customers–and honked my horn to give a little bit of solidarity to these workers. Am also glad to see them getting some real support from famous people. This is good:
Arrived at my local grocery store with a long list and learned that the workers had just gone on strike. So I turned around and got back in the car. No way I’d cross that line. They are too good to me and my kids. Good luck on a fair resolution. #AlwaysFriendly #AlwaysHelpful
— Rebecca Lobo (@RebeccaLobo) April 11, 2019
And this is great!
— Amanda Beland (@Amanda_Beland) April 12, 2019