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Teamsters would support Stop & Shop walkout

March 19, 2019

The Teamsters warned Stop & Shop that its members would support the supermarket’s union in any labor stoppage as a result of the current impasse in contract negotiations, with nearly 700 warehouse workers and 250 drivers delivering food and other products to Stop & Shop stores in southern New England.

More than 30,000 Stop & Shop employees have been working since Feb. 23 on the terms of an expired contract, with negotiations continuing last week between the Ahold Delhaize subsidiary and the United Food & Commercial Workers to which they belong.

In the past few weeks, leaders with the Westport-based UFCW Local 371 and other affiliates have been advising Stop & Shop members to bring warm clothes and footwear to work in readiness for any sudden walkout. At negotiations last week in Providence, R.I., union members were on hand from Belgium and the Netherlands where Ahold Delhaize has its headquarters to express support, with Stop & Shop based in Quincy, Mass.

The sides have kept their respective demands behind closed doors, with Stop & Shop having defended its pay and benefits as above industry averages in southern New England, based on surveys by Mercer. As of Monday morning, no additional negotiations had been scheduled but both sides have indicated they are open to a resumption of talks.

“According to the Stop & Shop negotiators, they’ve ‘heard us loud and clear,’” union leaders stated on UFCW Local 371’s website last week. “We are still far apart from reaching an agreement.”

In a letter to Mark McGowan, president of Stop & Shop, the head of the Boston-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 25 noted that in addition to food deliveries, its truckers pick up waste as well from Stop & Shop stores.

“The services Teamsters provide are an important element of ensuring that (Stop & Shop supermarkets) operate smoothly,” stated Sean O’Brien, president of Teamsters Local 25, in his letter to McGowan. “It is my sincere hope that (Stop & Shop) reconsiders its position and negotiates fairly.”

The AFL-CIO has also expressed general support for Stop & Shop workers, without putting teeth into that support in the manner of the Teamsters letter. Locally, AFL-CIO member unions represent workers at Acme Markets in Stamford, Greenwich and New Haven; ShopRite in Milford, Stratford and the New Haven area; Fairway Market in Stamford; Kings Supermarket in Greenwich; and Food Bazaar in Bridgeport.

On behalf of its 220,000 members, the Connecticut AFL-CIO has thrown its support behind Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposal to increase Connecticut’s statutory minimum wage to $15 an hour, while criticizing other aspects of his plan including reducing estate taxes.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman