Stop & Shop employees walked out of stores across New England Thursday, including many Connecticut locations, after failing to resolve a contract impasse.
Here’s what you need to know about the strike:
Will Stop & Shop stores be open Friday?
Yes and no. It comes down to whether the store has enough people to work.
While Stop & Shop says it has made contingency plans for staffing, it offered no information on its websites or social media platforms.
People’s United Bank branches remain open in most stores.
Yet, even if a Stop & Shop is open, you will face picketers near the stores.
The Lake Avenue Extension supermarket in Danbury is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, and the bank and pharmacy will be open as well. The supermarket’s normal business hours are 6 a.m. to midnight. A representative said only “nonunion workers” are working Friday.
Danbury’s Newtown Road Stop & Shop is closed Friday, but the bank and pharmacy will be open. An employee said the store doesn’t have any nonunion workers.
The Newtown Stop & Shop at 228 South Main St. is open until 8 p.m., instead of its normal 10 p.m. closing time due to the strike. The pharmacy and bank are open.
The Hamden Stop & Shop at 2355 Dixwell Ave. is open. The contingent of striking folks is noticeably larger than at the Whalley Avenue store. No police presence. Folks striking are right up against the door.
The Stop & Shop on Whalley Avenue in New Haven is closed.
The Amity Stop & Shop in New Haven is closed. The gas station appears closed. Bank and pharmacy inside store will be open as they have contracts and must accept people who need to refill prescriptions.
Workers outside the entrance said many shoppers came Thursday and went inside to store anyway, saying they didn’t know about the strike. Self checkouts were open, but no cash registers were open.
Friday morning, the parking lot was mostly deserted and workers said they hope the message is spreading that they are asking customers to wait until this contract dispute has been resolved, but then come back to shop again.
The Amity store carries one of the largest Passover selections in the area. Passover starts next week.
Workers there said that before they were ordered outside to start the strike Thursday, they tried to put away produce and make sure items were properly refrigerated so no food would go bad without employees in the store.
Why are workers on strike?
More than 600 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 371, which represents workers in much of Connecticut and headquartered in Westport, voted in early March to strike as contract negotiations with the grocery chain stalled.
Union members are refusing to accept hour cutbacks, elimination of Sunday premium pay, no raises over the next three years, increased automation and decreased health and pension benefits.
The unions said the company had more than $2 billion in profits last year and received a U.S. tax cut of $225 million in 2017.
Stop & Shop said it proposed a “good and reasonable” offer to the local unions, including pay increases, continued health care benefits and increased company contributions to the UFCW’s benefit pension fund.
What are workers saying?
Workers at the Whalley Avenue Stop & Shop had these comments Friday:
Ebony Bynum, 32, has worked at the store for eight years. She said better compensation would help her support her son, including paying for his prescriptions. “It hurts (to strike), but if they can see us and hear us out here striking, maybe they’ll come to an agreement.”
Helen C. Powell, 62, worked for 18 years at the Shaw’s location that preceded the Stop & Shop on Whalley, then worked for eight years at the succeeding store. “I helped build Stop & Shop after Shaw’s closed,” said Powell, who said she used to be the Democratic Deputy Registrar of Voters in New Haven as well.
She said the store serves local residents, ethnic groups, college kids, students on their way to classes in the morning — it’s a needed community institution. “We’re asking for our benefits, retirement... They may call us Evel Knievel, but I’m here to serve the public,” Powell said. “We’re not trying to rob them, but we’re after our fair share.”
Denise Tartaglia is the store’s union representative. She works as a meat packer. She said she has been at the store since it opened eight years ago. She said the workers wanted to keep their health care at its current cost, without a potential doubling or tripling of the cost of co-pays and deductibles. They also want to protect time-and-a-half on Sundays for future employees and, hopefully, secure a raise.
How many stores are there?
The grocery giant employs more than 31,000 associates throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The company operates 92 stores in Connecticut alone.
Quincy, Massachusetts-based Stop & Shop, a division of Dutch supermarket giant Ahold Delhaize, has 415 stores across the Northeast but the strike affects 240 stores in the three states.
Should I cross the picket line?
That’s your decision. Many customers have chosen to go to other stores.
The union said “Please honor your sisters’ and brothers’ picket lines and shop at these other grocery stores who have workers represented by UFCW:
Shop Rites are located in the following towns: Hamden, West Haven, Milford, East Haven, Stratford, Enfield, West Hartford, Canton and Orange.
ACME Markets: Riverside, New Canaan, Greenwich and Stamford
Fairway Market: Stamford
Food Bazaar: Bridgeport
Kings Supermarket: Greenwich
Ben Lambert, Viktoria Sundqvist and Kendra Baker contributed to this story.