Stop & Shop workers in southern New England walked off the job Thursday, after more than 31,000 employees last month authorized their labor leaders to call for a work stoppage amid increasingly strained contract negotiations.
Members of the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1459 began forming picket lines around 1 p.m.at the three Berkshire stores - two in Pittsfield and one in North Adams.
"Today, at 1:15 pm, the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1445 members who work at Stop & Shop will be walking off their job, " the release said.
"We are working as quickly as possible to reopen the stores and to minimize disruptions to our customers", Brogan said.
How long will this go on for?
Customer Nicky Yancy says Thursday might be the last time she shops at Stop & Shop for a while.
How big of a deal is this? .
This is a breaking news story. In the west (Hartford/Springfield/Montpelier) region, Stop & Shops saw 40.7 percent of the market share, while the company saw 22 percent in the east (Boston/Providence/Manchester/Portland/Bangor) region.
Unions representing store workers have been without a contract since February.
However, the union hasn't exactly kept quiet about their concerns.
According to an April 6 post on the union's website, "Despite some slight progress being made during contract negotiations, the company is still proposing unreasonable cuts that could impact us all". The company previously said it would hire temporary workers to keep stores open in the event of a strike. The company has also cut staff and relied more on automation, he said.
Bollen said UFCW is asking for wage adjustments that protect against inflation and workers said they oppose what they described as company proposals to do away with time and a half pay on Sundays and holidays. All in all, this represents a massive step backwards with many workers facing reduced weekly earnings if they agreed to their "final offer'". "We're going to take action".
"Our teamsters are backing us 100% which means will not be any deliveries to any Stop & Shop", one of the employees said. "While Stop & Shop continues to propose drastically cutting worker benefits, Ahold shareholders voted on April 10 to give themselves an 11.1 percent raise in dividends over previous year". That payout, delivered on April 25, will amount to about $880 million for shareholders, UFCW said.
What is the company's stance?
In a statement, Brogan said the company's proposals include "continued "Gold Level" health care benefits for eligible associates - at a fraction of what employees at other retail companies pay and with no changes to already unusually low deductibles".
"Full-time Stop & Shop union associates in New England are among the highest paid in the industry", the company wrote online, adding that the average hourly wage is $21.30.
As far as Peapod, we were told that they are part of a different union so the drivers will be out on road but their trucks are likely not carrying groceries because the Stop & Shop employees who serve as the Peapod shoppers are on strike. "Wage cuts have never been proposed".