The 2019 Stop & Shop strike began on April 11, 2019 when approximately 31,000 workers, represented by United Food and Commercial Workers, walked off the job and began picketing Stop & Shop locations across New England, in the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The strike was in response to the company not agreeing after extensive negotiations to a contract which did not reduce employee pay and benefits. The strike ended eleven days later on April 21.
The company's proposed contract sought to eliminate for many employees premium pay on national holidays and Sundays, while also eliminating any raises, reducing contributions to pensions, and increasing healthcare costs. Negotiations continued in good faith between the two sides, but with no progress made, UFCW Local 1445 of Massachusetts became the first chapter to authorize a strike if needed on February 24. In the following weeks, the members of the four other UFCW unions in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island also authorized a potential strike as a response to the lack of progress. The strike did not occur, and negotiations continued sporadically through the first week of April. On April 3, federal mediators were brought in after the unions rejected Stop & Shop's "last offer" contract. An unsuccessful round of negotiations overseen by the federal negotiators broke down on April 10. On the same day, shareholders of Ahold Delhaize, the owner of the grocery chain, voted to increase the company's dividend by 11.1% in comparison to the last year. The next day a strike was called.
Union Stop & Shop employees walked off the job at 1:00 p.m. on April 11 to strike against the contract proposed by Stop & Shop. The next day the teamster union, which represented the store's delivery truck drivers and warehouse workers, told its members to respect the UFCW's picket line. On April 15, Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque crossed the picket line at the Stop & Shop in North Andover, Massachusetts; after being filmed by picketing workers, he quickly issued an apology for doing so. On April 17, the Boston Globe reported that "at least several dozen" Stop & Shop locations were closed due to the strike. While during the first week of the strike, foot traffic by loyal customers in the remaining stores decreased by 75 percent compared to the prior week. The Connecticut Food Bank during the same week coordinated with the stores to ensure that the food at the nearly empty locations did not go to waste. It was estimated that each day of the strike the company lost $20 million in revenue. The managing director of the retail consulting firm Strategic Resource Group said, "In nearly 30 years, we haven't seen a strike as effective and devastating as this one."
Candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, including Bernie Sanders, the junior senator from Vermont, and former Vice President Joe Biden announced support for Stop & Shop's employees' strike. Elizabeth Warren, the senior senator from Massachusetts, who was also a candidate for the nomination, joined workers at the Somerville, Massachusetts location to rally for a new contract and brought doughnuts for the striking workers. Democratic candidates, South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg and senator Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, as well as local politicians, also visited over the next few days the picket lines in support of the striking workers.
In August 2019, Ahold Delhaize reported the 11-day strike resulted in a $345 million loss in sales, with an estimated 1 in 10 customers not coming back to the store as a regular customer after the strike.
After an 11-day strike, 31,000 Stop & Shop workers in New England went back on the job today after five locals of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with the supermarket chain.
Many customers also appeared to be backing the striking Stop & Shop employees. To gauge the impact of the strike, location data specialist Skyhook conducted a foot traffic analysis of anonymized mobile devices that typically visit Stop & Shop once per week in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island and checked to see if those customers stopped going to Stop & Shop during this time span and went to a different grocery store instead.
Stop & Shop workers went on strike to protest the company's proposed changes to wages and benefits. Labor contracts for five UFCW chapters in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island expired Feb. 23, and the two sides have been unable to agree to new terms despite meeting with a federal mediator.
Stop & Shop also wants to reduce pensions for some workers, arguing that the company is an industry outlier and therefore at a competitive disadvantage. Stop & Shop wants to freeze its monthly pension-fund contribution for new full-time workers. Pension payments for part-time workers hired after Feb. 23, 2014, would stop increasing under the company's proposal.
Picketers are going without pay and say they don't expect much financial assistance from the union. Paul Batista, a butcher at the Stop & Shop on Everett Street in Allston, Mass., told WBUR this week that the union won't begin to make up for lost wages until the strike hits the two-week mark, and checks will be just $100 per week for full-time workers and $50 per week for part-timers.
Strikers can apply for unemployment benefits but might not receive them. According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, "employees participating in a labor dispute (i.e., strike) that results in a substantial curtailment of the employer's business do not qualify for benefits."
The strike has affected stores across Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island since April 11, drawing support from a wide range of people. Easter and Passover shopping were even affected, with religious leaders weighing in.
Employees are unhappy with the company's proposed changes to retirement plans and health insurance, as well as the addition of self-checkouts and robots in stores. The union is asking people not to shop at the chain.
More than 31,000 employees authorized union leaders to call for a strike. Quincy-based Stop & Shop, a division of Dutch supermarket giant Ahold Delhaize, has 415 stores across the Northeast but the strike affects 240 stores in the three states.
Stop & Shop said in a statement posted on its website that it was disappointed with the strike given that negotiations are ongoing with the assistance of federal mediators. The company added that management's "reasonable" offer includes across-the-board raises and health and pension benefits it says are better than most other food retailers.
"We're disappointed that from day one they didn't bargain in good faith with us. we're disappointed that the hard workers are out here on a picket line instead of in the store serving their customers. We support out customers. and our customers support us. and again, we're going to stay out here as long as we have to to get a fair contract," Joe Villanucci, the union shop steward at the Medford store, told WBZ-TV Friday.
Paul Tritto, a worker on strike explained, "With the proposal, they have with healthcare and time and a half on Sunday, they take that away from me, they're going to take $300 out of my pocket every week. That's a part-time job."
When the manager told the crowd to stay away from the store entrance, union organizer Matt Szulborski, vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union 1459 of Springfield, told her to leave the strikers alone, and encouraged her to call the police.
Since the strike began Thursday, traffic in and out of the store has decreased notably, said Ernie Orcutt, who works in the meat department. On Saturday the parking lot was the emptiest he had seen it yet, and most of the cars in it belonged to people protesting on behalf of the union workers, he said.
Wednesday marks day seven of the Stop & Shop workers strike. Last Thursday, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1445 members who work at Stop & Shop officially walked off their jobs. The strike began after the union and company failed to come to an agreement on their contract.
Striking employees of the Stop & Shop supermarket chain continue to walk a picket line at the Plainville store April 15. More than 31,000 union workers were on strike in New England, including employees at stores in Attleboro, South Attleboro, North Attleboro and Foxboro.
Meat shelves remained empty Monday, but would soon be re-stocked, at the Pleasant Street Stop & Shop in Attleboro. Company officials and workers agreed on a tentative contract Sunday, ending a strike that began on April 11 at 240 Stop & Shop stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Stop & Shop employees walked a picket line outside the Plainville store April 15. The strike, which began April 11, ended last Sunday when the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, representing 31,000 workers in 240 stores, came to terms on pay and benefits for the next three years. 2b1af7f3a8