The Stop & Shop strike entered its sixth day on Tuesday as supermarket workers, including cashiers and shelf stockers, walked off the job in protest against a proposed contract they say will result in higher healthcare costs and decreased take-home pay.
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About 31,000 Stop & Shop unionized employees across more than 240 stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut have been on strike since April 11. The strike’s organizers, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, argue that Stop & Shop has “refused to back down from proposals attempting to cut workers’ health care, take home pay, and retirement benefits” despite $2 billion in profit in fiscal 2018.
“The decision to walk off the job is a tough one. If one person were to try to fight back on cuts like these by themselves, they wouldn’t stand a chance,” the UFCW said in a statement. “But the 31,000 workers who made this choice are doing it together as one union family. None of them have to fight for their health care and benefits alone. Together they can fight these cuts and protest the company’s unlawful actions in connection with negotiations—and win.”
The union has asked customers not to shop at the grocery chain’s stores while the strike is underway. The strike has caused some Stop & Shop locations to close, while others have remained open due to replacement workers, the New York Times reported.
Stop & Shop acknowledged on its website that “it’s not business as usual” at its affected stores, many of which are operating without normal services.
“Stop & Shop recognizes the valuable role our associates play in creating a great experience for you, our customers,” the company said in a statement. “They are a part of your lives, a part of our community, and key to our success. That’s why it is so important to us to provide a fair contract to our employees who are members of the UFCW unions currently on strike.”
Other key facts about the Stop & Shop strike can be found below.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren supports the strike
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate delivered coffee and donuts to picketing workers in Massachusetts last week. Aside from expressing support for the workers, Warren urged Stop & Shop shoppers not to cross the picket line.
Stop & Shop beefs up security
The supermarket chain has added security personnel at some affected store locations and asked for a police presence, NBC Connecticut reported. Stop & Shop said the measures were meant to “ensure the safety of our workers and the safety of our customers who continue to shop at our stores.”
Negotiations are ongoing
Both Stop & Shop and union representatives have provided regular updates about talks regarding a new contract. Stop & Shop said the talks were ongoing “with the support of federal mediators” and said healthcare benefits are one of its priorities. For its part, the UFCW said the chain was “still demanding major concessions” from workers as of Monday.
NHL legend Ray Bourque got caught in the middle
After facing strong criticism, the Boston Bruins legend apologized on Monday after he was seen crossing the picket line. Bourque said he went to Stop & Shop to address a medical condition and expressed support for the strikers.