The supermarket chain and the United Food and Commercial Workers announced a tentative deal.
From all the cheering, honking and whistling, you would think they were still on the picket line, but no. That’s just how happy Stop and Shop employees are that the strike is over.
“Tears of joy, just so happy to be back to work,” is how UFCW 919 Shop Steward Pat Valdez summed up the sentiment. “That’s all we wanted was to come back to work.”
“We’ve been ready to come back to work since the first day,” said New Haven Stop & Shop employee Leyda Rosa. “You know, I’m glad that our employers came into an agreement that was feasable for all of us.”
The union called this strike because they felt the contract they had been offered by the company was going to make their health care costs go up, their pension benefits go down, and their salary go almost nowhere.
What we know about this tentative deal so far is that it increases pay for all associates, preserves health care and retirement benefits and maintains time and a half pay on Sunday for current union members.
“As long as they try to meet our needs,” said cashier Ellen Powell as she headed back to work in New Haven. “Health is the biggest issue here. And retirement, and the pension. The wages, that comes in too.”
Speaking of meeting needs, Powell says, for the past week and a half, customers and other unions did just that..
“That’s when the customers showed they really appreciate us,” said Powel. “My customers would come, they bring donuts, coffee, bagels.”
“This community has been beyond amazing in their support for us,” said Valdez. “Donations, the Yale unions, the police, fire, teachers unions have been out here supporting us.”
This means some 31,000 workers are now back in stores instead of standing on the picket lines.
That is good news for them, for shoppers, and for the folks who run stores in shopping centers where Stop & Shops are the anchor tenant. They were suffering from the lack of business as well.
“We are incredibly grateful to our customers and everyone who proudly stood together with us every day for a contract that invests in the communities we serve, and makes Stop & Shop a better place to work and a better place to shop,” wrote United Food and Commercial Workers in a statement.
“We are very pleased to announce Stop & Shop has reached fair new tentative agreements with UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445 and 1459, which represent our 31,000 associates in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. We’re also glad to have our associates return to work as the strike has ended,” said Stop & Shop officials.