Stop & Shop strike ends with tentative labor agreement

Stop & Shop and the United Food & Commercial Workers union announced Sunday night that the two sides had reached a tentative agreement after an 11-day strike. 

The five UFCW locals in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island went on strike on April 11, amid a contract dispute, after the union's previous contract with the grocer expired Feb. 23. The strike had affected 240 stores in the three states. 

The tentative three-year agreements are subject to ratification votes by members of each union local. Stop & Shop spokeswoman Jennifer Brogan characterized the agreement Sunday as including "increased pay for all associates; continued excellent health coverage for eligible associates; and ongoing defined benefit pension benefits for all eligible associates." 

Union leaders said Sunday in an update on their website, "The message you sent by collectively standing up for yourselves, your families, and for good jobs, has resonated not only with the company, but for all of America. Thank you for everything that you've done."

The union locals are instructing all department managers, and regularly scheduled full-time employees who work a day shift, to report to their stores at 7:30 a.m. Monday. Other full- and part-time workers will receive a phone call by noon Monday to get their schedule for the week. 

The union message said employees are being sent notices of when and where their local's contract ratification meeting will take place. The local representing most stores in southeastern Connecticut is Local 919. 

"In the meantime, be proud of what you have accomplished on the line, thank your friends, neighbors and customers who signed petitions, brought food, and shared your message with the world," the message said.

Brogan said in an email statement, "Our associates’ top priority will be restocking our stores so we can return to taking care of our customers and communities and providing them with the service they deserve. We deeply appreciate the patience and understanding of our customers during this time, and we look forward to welcoming them back to Stop & Shop."

In southeastern Connecticut there are Stop & Shop stores in Stonington, Groton, Norwich, Montville, Waterford and East Lyme.

Jason Frechette, business representative for most of those stores, said in a phone call with The Day on Sunday evening that he was awaiting the details of the contract as they pertain to the "moving parts" such as health and welfare, wages, and part-time future pension accruals. He said he will be briefed Monday morning. 

"I’m so proud of our stewards and our strike captains, and with believing and understanding everything that was at stake," Frechette said.

He called the strike support from other unions as "democracy at its finest, standing up and believing and fighting for our livelihoods. It’s just a beautiful thing, and a lot of pain and sacrifice goes through the process."

On Sunday night, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who stood with striking workers on the picket line, released a statement that said, "This powerful victory is a win for all American workers who stand strong for fair pay, affordable healthcare, and other basic rights. I was proud to stand with Stop & Shop workers all around Connecticut, visiting more than two dozen stores and seeing their fortitude and courage. Fairness triumphed. They had strong support from communities across Connecticut who recognize that they are the face and voice of customer service."

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, had planned to join workers on the picket line at the Norwich store Monday if the strike had not been resolved by then.

Former Vice President Joe Biden also addressed striking workers in Boston on April 18.

The last strike among Stop & Shop employees occurred in 1988 and lasted less than 24 hours.




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