April 11, 2019

Stop & Shop workers walk off the job amid labor dispute

Photo | Courtesy
Workers protested outside of the Stop & Shop in Chicopee.

Left with an expired labor deal, Stop & Shop workers in New England walked off the job Thursday afternoon as negotiations again fell apart this week.

The 31,000 Stop & Shop workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) already voted to authorize a strike last month, but hadn't left their posts until Thursday at 1:15 p.m. Its three-year labor deal expired Feb. 23.

Union officials said members of Locals 919 (Farmington) and 371 (Westport) began a protest at the Stop & Shop in East Hartford, 940 Silver Lane, at that time to push back against the Mass.-based company's latest "final offer," which included $75,000 buyouts for the supermarket's tenured staff.

UFCW spokeswoman Amy Ritter earlier this week downplayed the buyout offer, claiming it would only be available to 1.29 percent of Stop & Shop's workforce in New England.

"We see this proposed buyout as nothing more than a bribe of our most loyal, senior members in an attempt to convince them to go against their own best interest…" Ritter said earlier this week.

The company operates several stores in Central Massachusetts, including three in Worcester, Shrewsbury, Grafton, Westborough, Framingham, Milford and other communities.

Thursday's strike comes a day after shareholders of Stop & Shop's parent company, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, voted to give themselves an 11 percent raise in dividends compared to a year prior. That payout, delivered on April 25, will amount to about $880 million for shareholders, UFCW said.

It wasn't immediately clear from UFCW on Thursday afternoon how long the strike would last, or how store operations would be impacted.

Stop & Shop could not be reached for immediate comment Thursday.

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