Stop & Shop Supermarket Workers Strike: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Getty Stop & Shop workers maintain a picket line while on strike on April 12, 2019 in Somerville, Massachusetts. On Thursday, 31,000 unionized Stop & Shop workers across New England walked off the job in an ongoing strike in response to a proposed contract which the United Food & Commercial Workers union says would cut health care benefits and pensions for employees.

It’s been eight days on the picket line for 31,000 striking supermarket workers across New England heading into Easter weekend.

On Thursday, April 11, the tens of thousands of workers from Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island walked off the job after contract negotiations broke down.

The workers are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Five locals across New England are participating in the walkout. Workers have been without a contract since February. The strike includes five local unions; 328, 371, 1445, 1459, and 919.

Workers and union leaders say the company owner, Ahold Delhaize, has not only not offered increases but has proposed cuts in wages, health care benefits and retirement.

Stop & Shop claims it’s acting in good faith, has made fair offers and cares about employees.

According to Massachusetts state treasurer Deb Goldberg, whose grandfather founded the company 100 years ago, “Ahold Delhaize saw $74 billion in net sales, marking a strong year of growth and profit, and this year, the company authorized over $1 billion in stock buybacks.”

Founded in 1892 in Boston’s North End as a mom and pop market called ‘Greenies,” it was christened in 1914 as a supermarket chain. Today there are more than 400 stores across the Northeast. In 1995, the chain was sold to international Dutch retailer Ahold Delhaize.

Not alone, the striking workers are getting support from Democrats running for president in the 2020 election

It’s reported workers for the grocery store chain have not struck in more than three decades.

On Friday, in Wethersfield, Connecticut, police reported a man threatened to shoot at striking workers with an AK-47. Police brought striking workers inside the store for safety.

No injures were reported and a suspect has not been identified.

As the strike appears to be headed into day nine, here’s what you need to know:

1. Striking Stop & Shop UFCW Workers Have Said They’ll Stay on the Picket Line For ‘As Long As it Takes’

Garnering wide support locally and nationally, parking lots in the supermarket chain across the three states are largely empty with some stores closing and others with temporary workers inside.

In New Haven, Connecticut, striking workers clad in red, many looking forlorn, brighten up when horns honk in solidarity with the union workers.

Stop & Shop union shop steward, executive board member and contract negotiator for UFCW 371 Denise Tartaglia, picketing with members at a New Haven, Connecticut store, told Heavy workers will stay as long as necessary.

2. Unions From Across the US Have Shown Support as the Strike Enters Its Second Week

Other unions in solidarity have vowed not to cross the picket lines.

“Please do not cross these picket lines.”

3. 2020 Democrat Presidential Candidates Have Tweeted & Shown up to Walk the Line With Workers

Pete Buttigieg, who was campaigning in New Hampshire said he wanted to be part of the “labor action …to amplify the stand these women and men are taking here.”

“For me, it’s about freedom. You’re not free if your workplace doesn’t provide you the means for a good living,” he said adding there’s “a real revival in the power and strength of unions” and it’s an issue he will be talking about on the trail.

Wednesday, former Vice President Joe Biden attended a rally in support of striking worker in Dorchester.

“You know who built the middle Class? Unions! There’s only one reason why there’s a forty hour week. There’s only one reason why there’s overtime pay,” Biden said.

He also tweeted asking for people to consider donating to help workers who are being paid while on strike.

“The hard working men and women of @UFCW that I met today are going without pay during this strike. If you can, pitch in to make sure that those workers facing the greatest hardship are supported.”

And on the first days of the strike, Sen. Elizabeth Warren weighed in.

“31k New England @StopandShop workers just went on strike for a contract that provides fair wages, good benefits, & a secure retirement. I stand in solidarity with @UFCW for these hard-working families to be treated with the dignity & respect they deserve.”

On the eighth day of the walk-out, 2020 contender Sen. Amy Klobuchar joined in to support workers.

“I stand in solidarity with the Stop & Shop workers who are asking for fair wages and compensation. Stopped by the Somerville, Massachusetts picket line today to lend my support @UFCW”

4. A Petition Was Created in Support of Workers & a GoFundMe Campaign Launched For Workers Who Are Striking Without Pay

A GoFundMe by the UFCW hopes to raise $250,000 to help support workers who are in their second week without pay.

“Hard-working Stop & Shop employees all over New England are standing together for a contract that protects their health care coverage, retirement funds and, most importantly, their ability to provide you with the very best in customer service.

After months of negotiating with Stop & Shop without reaching a deal to protect these benefits, 31,000 Stop & Shop workers walked off the job on April 11th. As long as they are on strike, they will not be collecting a regular paycheck.

Your donations to this strike fund will be used to assist Stop & Shop strikers facing hardships.

Our goal is to reach an agreement as soon as possible and secure a strong contract that honors the 31,000 hard-working women and men who have helped make Stop & Shop the most successful grocer in New England. Until we reach that agreement, we are standing strong on the picket lines together. Thank you for supporting us as we are on strike.”

The GoFundMe has raised $30,000.

And a UFCW petition in support of workers was launched.

“When people come together and stand up for their local communities, we are all stronger. Brave men and women at Stop & Shop are putting it all on the line to defend their health care, and I couldn’t be more proud to stand with them.”

5. The Daughter of the Founders of Century-Old Stop & Shop Supports the Striking Workers Blaming New Corporate Owners

“With more than 100 years since Stop & Shop began, I am now thinking about the families of the current Stop & Shop workers, who are facing cuts from the company to their health care benefits and take-home pay—cuts that are so dire, many feel their only recourse is to stand up and fight for a better life. Today, I see all that we built and believed in are being put in jeopardy because of Ahold Delhaize, the current parent company of Stop & Shop,” Goldberg wrote.

Stop & Shop responded to the strike.