Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, expressed support for striking Stop & Shop employees in Malden, Massachusetts on Friday, joining other Democratic presidential candidates who have backed the grocery chain’s workers on the picket line in recent days.
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"This largest private sector labor action strike in three years is sending a message that is going to ripple out far beyond New England. And the message is that companies have to do right by their workers," Buttigieg said during an address, according to local outlet WCVB.
About 31,000 Stop & Shop workers from more than 240 stores across the Northeast have been on strike for more than a week. The strike’s organizers, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, say Stop & Shop’s proposed terms for a new labor deal would force workers to pay higher healthcare premiums while receiving less take-home pay.
Buttigieg’s appearance in Malden came one day after former Vice President Joe Biden, who is widely expected to declare his bid for the 2020 nomination, joined Shop & Shop strikes at an event in Dorchester. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has also expressed support for the strike, delivering coffee and donuts at another gathering earlier this week.
“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 announcing the strike. “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 strike has impacted operations at many Stop & Shop locations and caused others to shut down entirely. Negotiations between the two sides are ongoing.