Stop & Shop workers to vote on strike

Rebecca Tauber

North Adams Stop & Shop workers will vote on Sunday to decide whether or not to authorize a strike. 

United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1445, which represents some of the Stop & Shop workers in many New England states, voted to authorize a strike on behalf of the workers on Feb. 24. The UFCW Local 1445 vote was prompted by recent contract negotiations in which union representatives expressed frustration with the store’s plans to cut benefits for its workers. Although a strike has not yet begun, its authorization allows for the possibility of a strike if negotiations fail.

In the WCVB article, “Thousands of Stop & Shop employees vote to authorize strike, union says,” UFCW Local 1445 President Jeff Bollen expressed anger at the grocery chain’s proposals. “This is a slap in the face to our members, our communities and Stop & Shop customers,” he said. “Instead of investing in our members, many of whom have given Stop & Shop over 40 years of service, Ahold [Delhaize, the parent company,] would rather ship money overseas. This only serves to grow the income of wealthy executives and hurts our communities along with the service our loyal customers expect in their stores.”

On the day of the UFCW Local 1445 vote, Stop & Shop issued a statement responding to the strike authorization vote. “Full-time Stop & Shop associates are among the highest-paid food retail workers in the region, and we are working hard to reach strong new contracts that will continue to provide Stop & Shop associates with competitive wages and affordable health care for eligible associates,” the statement said. “We are proud of our relationship with our associates and optimistic that we will be able to reach a new agreement.”

Although local Stop & Shop workers have not gone on strike thus far, some students at the College have been spreading the word about the possibility of a strike and urging people to shop at Wild Oats Market or Big Y World Class Market instead. Last week, the organizers of Log Lunch, a weekly lunch hosted by the Center for Environmental Studies at the Log, bought their ingredients at Big Y instead of the North Adams Stop & Shop, where they typically shop. During Log Lunch, Eliza Klein ’19 made an announcement about the strike, urging students not to “cross the picket line.”

Sunday’s vote amongst members of UFCW Local 1459, which often works with  the larger UFCW Local 1445, will decide whether or not they will strike at the North Adams location. “Members will be EITHER ratifying the new contract OR taking a strike authorization vote,” the UFCW Local 1459 Facebook page said.