Last updated on February 29th, 2016 at 04:47 pm
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1445, representing 10,000 workers at Stop & Shop stores in New England, has authorized a worker strike but has not set a strike date and continues to negotiate toward a new contract. The previous contract expired at midnight Feb. 27.
According to Stop & Shop, “Associates represented by UFCW Local 1445 voted to grant the union local strike authorization in a vote conducted Sunday, Feb. 28. A vote to authorize a strike does not necessarily mean a union strike will occur.
“The four other UFCW locals involved in negotiations (Locals 328, 371, 919 and 1459) postponed their strike authorization meetings and have continued to negotiate in good faith to reach a new contract as soon as possible. We remain willing to continue to negotiate with Local 1445 as well.”
The unions in total represent 34,000 store associates in New England. Key issues include healthcare costs, pensions, wages and overall employee benefits.
Stop & Shop has been meeting with the unions to reach a new contract since Dec. 15. According to Stop & Shop, the company presented last week “comprehensive proposals that add significant improvements in wages for each of our current associates. The company’s proposals include controlling benefit costs and securing greater workforce flexibility to improve operational efficiency. Stop & Shop believes that these objectives can be reached while increasing the pay for every one of our associates, maintaining excellent healthcare plans for eligible associates and continuing to provide a industry-leading pension benefit that far exceeds what associates could find elsewhere, including at other companies with UFCW representation.”
According to Stop & Shop, the company offer on the table provides “associates with increased pay, generous paid time off, rich healthcare benefits with associate premiums that are significantly less than market averages, and maintains our current contribution level to their industry-leading defined benefit pension plan.”
The company adds that Stop & Shop has a long history of reaching contracts with the unions representing its associates without any disruption to their work or customer service. Stop & Shop says it has alternate plans if a strike occurs that will “ensure that our customers can continue to shop at Stop & Shop without interruption.
“We sincerely hope that we will not have to activate these plans but, if we do, we are confident that there will be no change in the great service our customers have come to expect,” according to the company.