Workers across the Greater Boston region took to the picket lines on Friday, April 12, to fight a continued contract battle against Stop & Shop – and workers were out in force at the Everett/Chelsea location as well.
Most workers at the local store asked shoppers to consider using another store, standing with strike signs to the side of the doors to the store.
Some 31,000 unionized grocery store employees were included in the strike, with many from the local store being Everett and Chelsea residents.
The main contention of the demands by workers includes a fair wage, affordable/accessible health care and a reliable retirement plan.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said on Tuesday afternoon that they are still negotiating with the company but might have some news by the end of the week.
The struggle began earlier this year when the union contract was about to expire in February, with the Union threatening a strike. On Feb. 23, the contract did expire, and the Union authorized a strike. The union local representing Everett’s store is UFCW 1445.
“Stop & Shop has known for the past three years that our contract was set to expire on February 23,” read a statement from the union presidents in February. “But because of their continued corporate greed throughout these negotiations, Stop & Shop employees and customers now find themselves in a position where job actions may take place.”
While federal mediation was taking place in the time from that strike authorization to now, talks did break down recently – prompting the strike action.
Local officials made visits to the front lines over the weekend.
State Sen. Sal DiDomenico said Stop & Shop, and its parent company Royal Ahold, should treat the workers with dignity and respect.
“Once again, we have another corporate giant who refuses to treat it’s employees with dignity and respect,” said DiDomenico. “I have been a frequent shopper at Stop & Shop and I will no longer step foot in any of their stores until they come to a resolution with the union workers and provide them a fair contract. I am proud to support Stop & Shop workers in their fight for fair wages, affordable health care, and a dependable retirement, and I will continue to stand with them in this fight and urge everyone to respect their picket line.”
Stop & Shop officials said that negotiations are continuing with the UFCW union locals, again with the support of federal mediators.
The company has said they have been very generous in their contract offer to the UFCW union.
On health care, they indicated they have agreed to pay 92 percent of heath premiums for family coverage and 88 percent for individuals. Th company said that is much more than other large retailers – citing that the federal government pays 72 percent and other employers average between 70 and 80 percent. Additionally, the offer includes no changes to the deductibles, and small increases to co-pays.
The company said it is also offering a defined benefit pension plan that pays between $1,926 and $2,644 annually per associate. In the new contract, the company said it has agreed to increase contributions to pension funds.
Also, they added that the paid time off has not changed and continues to be 10 to 12 paid holidays per year.