Stop & Shop workers in Dartmouth and across New England go on strike
Stop & Shop workers across New England have walked off the job and are now on strike, including in Dartmouth.
At around 1 p.m. last Thursday, more than 20 employees at the Faunce Corner Road store stopped working and formed picket lines outside the store. Thousands of employees at stores across several New England states also went on strike today.
Joyce Babineau, of New Bedford, has been working in the Dartmouth Stop & Shop for more than 20 years. She said she is on strike to protest unfair wages, lack of healthcare, pensions, and takeaways.
“This company is making a lot of money,” Babineau said. “There’s no need for this, absolutely no need for this. We just want what we work very hard for.”
The sudden strike was a surprise to shoppers. Westport resident Colleen Avedikian, who visits the Dartmouth Stop & Shop several times a week, was supportive of the strike.
“I think workers have to stick together,” Avedikian said. “We’re not going to advance working conditions if we don’t stand in solidarity with each other. The prices here are higher than Market Basket, but I come here because it’s a union shop.”
Stop & Shop workers in Dartmouth are represented by United Food and Commercial Workers International Local 328. The union and Stop & Shop have been locked in a contract dispute for the past several months, after an existing contract expired in February.
Several UFCW unions voted to authorize a strike in late February. The remaining unions covering the region, including Local 328, voted to authorize a strike on March 10.
According to UFCW Local 328 press releases and news updates, Stop & Shop presented a “final offer” to employees earlier in the week.
“Stop & Shop continues to push for broad cuts to health care, take-home pay, and retirement benefits that are simply unreasonable,” the statement read.
On April 9, union officials posted another update stating they pushed back with a contract proposal to protect pensions, maintain health and welfare benefits, and provide wage rates that "address our members' concerns about government mandated minimum wage increases while allowing the company to remain competitive."
On April 10, the union announced Stop & Shop had failed to respond to issues raised in the proposal, ending the communication by stating "It is time for Stop & Shop to recognize how valuable you are to their company and compensate you all for all that you do."
In a statement posted to its website, Stop & Shop officials said they had proposed a “good and reasonable offer to our local unions,” which, according to the statement, included pay increases for all associates, “Gold Level” health care benefits, and increased contributions to the UFCW’s pension fund.
“Given that negotiations with assistance of the federal mediators are continuing, we are disappointed that the UFCW chose to order a work stoppage in an attempt to disrupt service at our stores,” the company statement read.