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February 22, 2019

Union contract for Stop & Shop workers to expire

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

An existing three-year labor contract between Mass.-based grocery retailer Stop & Shop and its New England workers is set to expire on Saturday.

While negotiations are ongoing, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) representing more than 30,000 Stop & Shop workers in the region say the two sides are not close to reaching a deal before the current contract expires at midnight on Saturday.

UFCW locals 328, 919, 1459, 1445 and 371 are representing 31,500 employees in 200 Stop & Shop stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, officials said.

In a statement Thursday, the union said “reaching a deal over the next several days is imperative to protecting the livelihoods of thousands of hardworking families who have earned and deserve a better life.”

Labor officials say the two sides have been negotiating since mid-January and that the supermarket chain, which has over 400 locations nationwide and is owned by Denmark's Ahold, is seeking to slash workers’ benefits.

On Tuesday, UFCW launched a series of digital ads urging customers and workers to tell Stop & Shop to ink a fair deal for employees.

Customers in at least one video criticized the supermarket for cutting employee hours and replacing workers with self-checkout machines.

But Stop & Shop says it’s committed to striking a new contract that ensures competitive wages, affordable health care for eligible workers and sustainable retirement benefits.

“A fair, new agreement also must reflect the rapid changes and increasing competition that are reshaping our industry,” the company said in a statement. “Any new contract must ensure that Stop & Shop can continue to offer customers the service, selection and value they expect.”

The union fight comes after Stop & Shop recently invested about $70 million renovating more than 20 of its stores in the Hartford region. It also comes amid heightened competition in the grocery industry as new players enter the market and same-day or next-day grocery delivery is becoming more popular.

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