Stop & Shop workers reach tentative agreement, end strike

Rebecca Tauber

Stop & Shop workers across New England returned to work on Monday for the first time in 11 days, ending the strike that began on April 11. According to Skyhook, a location technology company, visits to Stop & Shop locations across the area declined by between 50–70 percent during the strike. 

The strike was organized by five United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local unions that represent over 31,000 workers, including members of UFCW Local 1459, which includes the Berkshires. The protests came as a result of months of tense contract negotiations. On one side of the bargaining table, the union members protested a variety of reductions, including pay and benefits for part-time staff, who make up a large part of the workforce. On the other side, Stop & Shop hailed its status as the only fully-unionized super market in the area and insisted that they presented a fair deal with wage increases and benefits. 

On Sunday, the UFCW unions circulated information on their websites and Facebook pages declaring the strike over. “We have finally reached a tentative agreement,” said Tyrone Housey, the president of UFCW Local 1459. “This is a great victory for our union members.”

Stop & Shop posted a negotiation update on Sunday explaining that they reached a tentative three-year agreement. Although the agreement has not yet been released, the corporation highlighted elements of the contract including increased pay, health care and benefits. “Our 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,” the release explained.

“Be proud of what you have accomplished on the line,” a notification released by UFCW 1459 to its members said. “The message you sent by collectively standing up for yourselves, your families, and for good jobs, has resonated not only with the company, but all of America.” The release also thanked all of the community members who supported the workers by expressing solidarity, refusing to cross the picket line, signing petitions and more. At the College, groups of students came together to help the workers by raising money for the strike fund and organizing rides to the picket line.

A ratification vote will take place this week to announce the details and confirm the contract. In the meantime, workers have returned to the Stop & Shop stores, which are now operating at full capacity.