In Stop & Shop picketing, a renewal path for work?



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While John Casey was involved this week in a dozen strikers of the Stop & Shop group in Norwalk, he realized the impact of any prolonged action on the lives of these members of the United Food & Food. Commercial Worker reduced to $ 20 a day.

Morale is strong and workers will remain mobilized to get what the union sees as fair demands for pay and benefits, Casey said, with supermarket workers perhaps helping to strengthen the union's resolve. at the national level for future negotiations.


It would have taken six weeks to picket the 31,500 striking Stop & Shop workers to eclipse the days lost in an ongoing dispute between Charter Communications and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, whose 1,700 Member technicians in New York and New Jersey withdrew from work just over two years ago.





But while these workers have staged demonstrations in front of Charter Headquarters in Stamford and in the boroughs of New York City, their persuasiveness is a chasm for Charter, which employs nearly 100,000 people and has more than 100,000 employees. 940,000 subscribers last year.

The strike by United Food & Commercial workers, on the other hand, has deterred customers of Stop & Shop stores en masse, with full parking in competing stores this week as households prepare for rallies. A UFCW official in Farmington said this week that parent company Ahold Delhaize is sacrificing $ 20 million in revenue each day as the strike continues.



Joe Biden pointed out the extraordinary pressures exerted by UFCW workers on Ahold Delhaize, speaking in Boston on Thursday while the former vice president had gone around the scene, in the ## 147 ## ################################################################################# 39, waiting for a candidacy at the White House.

"What is happening here is that workers are not treated, overall, with dignity – they are not treated the way they are important," Biden said. "Ordinary people of the middle class have built America and … it's not a hyperbole, it's a simple fact. … The middle class built this place, and you know who built the middle class? Unions. "

Unions lose ground in 2018

After a relative lull that lasted a decade, work stoppages multiplied last year with 20 separate actions involving 485,000 workers, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, representing the largest number of workers on the picket line since 1986.


Some of these strikes have drawn national attention, particularly in Arizona, where 81,000 teachers have gathered in Phoenix to pressure the state government to relax its previous position on contract negotiation.

In Connecticut, unions have strengthened their membership base for four consecutive years to reach 278,000 people in 2017, a 10-year high, before losing 10,000 members last year, according to BLS estimates. The reversal occurred despite overall employment gains last year, with 16% of union-owned Connecticut workers according to BLS.

The union challenges have been to change the jobs and careers of workers more frequently, making it more difficult to retain existing members; and companies with more distant business interests offering them alternative sources of income to overcome work stoppages.

In the case of Ahold Delhaize, the company owns, in addition to Stop & Shop, the non-union Hannaford supermarket, which has a large footprint in northeastern Connecticut and Rhode Island, as well as Giant and Food Lion chains. .

All eyes on Stop & Shop

Initial public and friendly exchanges between the parties threatened to worsen on Wednesday, when Stop & Shop CEO Mark McGowan warned UFCW members to give them the right to picket, while warning them to do not cross any front lines in terms of interaction. with customers on the picket lines. McGowan did not specify what remedy the company would resort to if it found the strikers too disruptive.

"On a number of occasions … demonstrations went beyond civilian targets – and customers and employees were threatened, intimidated, or put in dangerous or disrespectful situations," McGowan told a stop & shop website about the strike. . "This and the illegal actions are things for which we will defend absolutely nothing. It is our responsibility to make sure everyone on the Stop & Shop property is safe at all times, and we take this commitment very seriously. "

Supervisors and local UFCW workers told Hearst Connecticut Media last week that even though they saw some unexpected Ahold Delhaize proposals in any new contract negotiations, D & # 039; others that they considered insupportable, including the company's position to no longer offer health insurance to have access to their own employers' plans.

Ahold Delhaize's responses are tracked nationally, according to John Casey, UFCW supervisor in a Stop & Shop store in Norwalk and a veteran of a 1988 Stop & Shop strike. less than 24 hours. The question is to what extent will they feed into other collective bargaining, whether in companies represented by UFCW members like Albertsons, owner of the Acme market, or by other important chains such as CVS and Rite Aid.

"I can tell you that every UFCW in the United States is studying this issue," Casey told Hearst Connecticut Media last week.

[email protected]; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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