More than 30,000 Stop & Shop employees went on strike Thursday after weeks of contract negotiations fell through. Their unions work in stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Employees have been without a contract since February. The sticking points between the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the company include employee contributions to the company’s health care and pension plans.
About two dozen employees formed a picket line outside a store in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Shop steward Robert Ferrezolli says his health care deductibles would have gone up by about $420 a month under the company’s plan.
“There’s a lot of things that we’ll be losing. You know what I mean? It’s gonna cost us more money. I can’t pay $420 a month. That’s like paying for a brand new car payment. So if I had a brand new car, how could I afford it? I would have to give it up.”
Jeff Bollen, the president of one of five UCFW unions that represent employees on strike, told shoppers in a Facebook message not to cross picket lines.
“We need your support. We’re asking you to help us out and shop someplace else until the strike is over. Please support these hard workers who wait on you every day when you come into those Stop & Shops.”
A Stop & Shop spokesperson says management offered employees across-the-board pay increases and more company contributions to employee pension funds.
The company says it has contingency plans in place to minimize disruption and remains ready to meet with union leaders at any time.