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Union Ends Stop & Shop Strike After New Contract Offer

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Unionized employees are heading back to work at Northeast grocery store chain Stop & Shop. 

United Food & Commercial Workers Locals have ended their week-and-a-half-long strike. Sunday night, Stop & Shop and the UFCW announced a tentative agreement in their triennial contract negotiations. In a rare move, the union implemented a strike on April 11th, which saw the grocery store chain’s patronage drop dramatically and forced it to severely limit its offerings in the days before Passover and Easter.

The UFCW described it as “a powerful victory” for the union, saying its members had successfully fought for “good jobs, affordable health care, a better wage, and to be treated right by the company they made a success.” It thanked Stop & Shop customers “who proudly stood together with [the union] every day for a contract that invests in the communities [it serves], and makes Stop & Shop a better place to work and a better place to shop.”

UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445 and 1459 represent 31,000 Stop & Shop employees in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island at over 240 stores.

“I just thought I would come to you tonight to say that indeed, this is done. We do have a deal," said Mark Spinoza, president of UFCW Local 919 in Farmington, Connecticut. He posted a YouTube address to members Sunday night.

“You are on the new cutting page of history," said Spinoza to union members. "You participated in an epic battle. The nation has watched this.”

Spinoza said the “monster employer” Stop & Shop – the region’s largest grocery store chain, which is owned by European conglomerate Ahold Delhaize – had accepted the union’s demands.

“And all those greedy kind of demands that I talked about in the past, they understood," continued the UFCW Local 919 president. "They finally understood. I am so proud to tell you that we’re walking in with a contract with you to vote on that we certainly are going to recommend. This contract is going to give you for the future the financial security, the dignity, the respect that you all have earned and deserve, and that’s all that we’ve been saying to the company consistently.”

He exhorted union members to prepare to return to work with a professional spirit.

“We have to work with the customers and the community around us, and we’re going to do that collectively," said Spinoza. "We’ve committed to the company as well, because now that this is over, of course we want your customers to come back.”

His instructions extended to the strained ties between workers and management.

“And even with your store managers, we have to put together the relationships that have been somewhat tarnished," continued Spinoza. "You have to put that on the back page now and just turn the page and go forward because we have done it.”

Stop & Shop described the unfinalized agreements as including “increased pay for all associates, continued excellent health coverage for eligible associates, and ongoing defined benefit pension benefits for all eligible associates.” Each UFCW local must vote to ratify the new contract agreements before they are finalized.

The company said that with the strike over, its “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.”

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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