Strike quickly makes waves in the local grocery market | In the west



Shawn Oates of Ashaway left the McQuade Market in Westerly on Friday afternoon to drive to his pickup truck, which he parked near the roadway, avoiding crowded parking.

While being arrested for chatting near the main entrance of the store, Mr. Oates stated that he usually performed errands at Pawcatuck's Stop & Shop while he was returning home on board. of Electric Boat. his routine.

"I just came from the location" 49 ". I was planning on shopping there and I went out and picketed, "he said. "The store on Route 2 is usually the place where I make my stop."

Oates was not alone, many cars coming in and out of the McQuade lot.

Kim Morrone, a supervisor at McQuade, said that when Stop & Shop employees went on strike, traffic in her store increased "in less than an hour."

"We had a lot of work and then we got more and more busy. The day was like a busy blizzard, "she said, probing the store behind the customer service desk.

She said the store had added several cashiers and additional help in each department in response to the surge in customer numbers. "Every weekend we have extra staff," Morrone said.

The Stop & Shop workers' contract expired on February 23 and the negotiations resulted in a mediation with both parties seemingly far apart from each other in their proposals regarding wages and benefits for the company. health. The strike was authorized by 31,000 employees and affects 240 of the 415 Northeast Stop & Shop supermarkets, including 92 stores in Connecticut and 27 in Rhode Island.

Morrone said that until the reopening of Stop and Shop, McQuade will continue to increase staff and order additional products to meet demand. "Additional orders, extra people in each service – everything is done to make the customers happy," she said.

Unlike McQuade, it appeared that the walkout had not significantly affected the Big Y's business at 79 Stonington Road in Mystic on Friday afternoon. Management did not want to comment, but pedestrian traffic seemed average for a Friday afternoon.

Lisa Leach, of Stonington, stopped in the Big Y's car park with a basket full of shopping bags. She stated that she was doing regular shopping at Pawcatuck's Stop & Shop and Big Y. "I was curious when running errands and I thought to myself, I wonder if there's going to be a crowd at Big Y "because of the strike, she said.

Leach said that she wanted to learn more about the details because it was difficult to decipher the position of each party. However, with the closure of many stores in the area, the strike would likely have had an impact on the company's bottom line, she added.

"You have food to waste and it's a big problem, if it covers all of New England, it's definitely in its pockets," she said.

She also said that seeing a strike was unusual compared to 40 years ago. At Stop & Shop, the last strike was in 1988.

"It's interesting because I have not seen a lot of strikes for many years. In the 1970s, tons of strikes took place, "she said. "We did not see a lot of strikes, you used to see things shut down, like the airline strike."

Back at McQuade, customer Leigh A. Reposa of Narragansett said she was trying the store for the first time and planned to show her support to striking workers by not making any purchases at Stop & Shop stores.

"I was working in the area of ​​human resources and negotiations," she said. "I saw it in other big retail organizations like Walmart. I have had similar experiences, so I really try to avoid in places that could potentially oppress their employees as opposed to empowering them. "

She said that shopping involved making moral and ethical choices and that she was trying McQuade because it was a family affair.

"I'm sure the prices will be a bit higher, but I prefer to support a family of local businesses that, hopefully, treat their employees the way they should in a larger chain."

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