March 7, 2019

Stop & Shop workers in CT vote to strike

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
In October, Stop & Shop completed a $70 million renovation of 21 Hartford region stores.

Amid stalled labor negotiations, more than 600 Stop & Shop workers on Wednesday night unanimously voted to go on strike.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) Local 371 in Westport voted Wednesday to reject the Mass.-based grocery retailer's latest proposed contract and authorized the strike at a special meeting in Cromwell, officials said.

The vote means workers can go on strike at anytime, although it was not immediately clear Thursday when that might be.

Wednesday's decision comes after a three-year labor contract between the chain and its New England workers expired on Feb. 23.

In Massachusetts, 10,000 Stop & Shop workers voted last week to go on strike. Meantime, labor negotiations were scheduled to begin again in Rhode Island this week.

UFCW said it represents about 98 percent of Stop & Shop workers.

The labor union said that contract negotiations broke down because the supermarket, owned by Denmark's Ahold, proposed millions of dollars in cuts to workers' pay and benefits.

"We hope that yesterday's decision will send a clear message that our union family is committed to making Stop & Shop a better place to work and shop," UFCW Local 371 President Tom Wilkinson said in a statement Thursday. "The cuts that Stop & Shop are proposing not only hurt workers, but will also affect the customer service and shopping experience our communities have come to know and appreciate."

In a statement Thursday, Stop & Shop argued it's the only fully unionized supermarket is New England, and provides some of the industry's highest paying jobs.

"We are working hard to reach strong new contracts that will continue to provide highly competitive wages, comprehensive health care coverage and, unlike any other area food retailers, a defined benefit pension," the company said. "We are continuing to negotiate in good faith and have additional bargaining sessions scheduled for this week and next."

UFCW has released digital ads urging customers and workers to tell Stop & Shop to agree to fair terms for employees.

This story has been updated

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