Food Workers' Union Authorizes a Strike of Stop & Shop Grocery Stores in the New York City Metro Area

Categories: Labor, Strikes

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@UFCW1500
Gathering at Nassau County UFCW Local 1500 strike authorization meeting.
If you haven't done your grocery shopping yet, now might be the time to stock up. On Monday at roughly 7:30 p.m., workers of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 authorized a strike of Stop & Shop supermarket, which employs 5,500 workers represented by the union. The strike would shut down stores on Long Island, New York City, Westchester, Putnam, and Duchess counties.

Seven hundred workers gathered at two meetings in Westchester and Nassau Counties unanimously authorized the strike. Local Secretary-Treasurer Tony Speelman had this to say about the proceedings:

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At issue is the negotiation over what health benefits will look like with the arrival of the Affordable Care Act, legislation that was sold to some lawmakers as making it easier for some big businesses to offload healthcare costs onto the new state healthcare exchanges.

"We knew going into negotiations that would have to change things because of the Affordable Care Act," says Patrick Purcell, director of political and legislative affairs with Local 1500. "But it quickly became clear that Stop & Shop was using [the new law] as an excuse to shed costs, reducing healthcare coverage."

Stop & Shop sees it differently. In a statement to Runnin' Scared, Stop & Shop sees itself as taken on an even greater burden of healthcare costs with the new federal legislation taking effect.

Stop & Shop is only one of dozens of companies that participates in a health and welfare fund jointly managed by union and employer trustees. In this fund, all the employers have paid the same contribution for the same program of benefits for all the participants in the funds. In all of its proposals to the union, Stop & Shop has proposed to increase its contributions and overall financial commitment to the fund to secure the fund for the future and meet the obligations imposed by the Affordable Care Act.

The old contracts with Stop & Shop expired on September 28. Over the course of negotiations, the contracts have been temporarily extended twice. The second extension expires November 2, meaning the strike could start as early as Sunday.

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But striking is the method of last resort of the union; there is a chance that the two sides might engineer a solution between now and November 3.

"We don't want to disrupt communities, so if there is a way to solve it we will solve it," explains Purcell. "We are not a strike-happy union."

Correction: An earlier version of this story misattributed a Twitter quote to Local 1500 President Bruce Both. The quote came from Local 1500 Secretary-Treasurer Tony Speelman.

Send your story tips to the author, Raillan Brooks.


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18 comments
kel4dolphins
kel4dolphins

I have worked for Giant here in Maryland for 25 yrs. Let me first say that I know Izzy is rolling over ten times over again in his grave. He never would have let his employees go without health care or take away our Sunday pay. As a matter of fact, he would never had us open 365 days. He understood the saying " You scratch my back n I'll scratch yours". Because he took such good care of us, we enjoyed our jobs, were proud to tell people where we worked. People would even say, "Wow, you for a good company!". Not today. They continue to find ways to get rid of those that built this company and hire at minimum wage. The ones they hire don't stay because the work demand is more then they r paid. They are cutting hours so bad that those of us who have been there 10yrs + are forced to work nights and all different hours. No such thing as a set schedule anymore. And holidays? We r open every holiday and expected to work them! Our customers are the ones who suffer in the long run. If we don't stand up for what we believe in no one else will.

kel4dolphins
kel4dolphins

I have worked for Giant here in Maryland for 25 yrs. Let me first say that I know Izzy is rolling over ten times over again in his grave. He never would have let his employees go without health care or take away our Sunday pay. As a matter of fact, he would never had us open 5 days. He understood the saying " You scratch my back n I'll scratch yours". Because he took such good care of us, we enjoyed our jobs re proud to tell people were we worked. People would even say, "Wow, you for a good company!". Not today. They continue to find ways to get rid of those that built this company and hire at minimum wage. The ones they hire don't stay because the work demand is more then they r paid. They are cutting hours so bad that those of us who have been there 10yrs + are forced to work nights and all different hours. No such thing as a set schedule anymore. And holidays? We r open every holiday and expected to work them! I no longer enjoy my job but unfortunately being there for 25 yrs now I am short of stuck. I am a single mom and a breast cancer survivor of 5 yrs this March. Everyone has their own sad story and everyone has their own reasons. Bit please, if you don't or haven't worked

alphatwin2002
alphatwin2002

There's always Hannaford's, if you live in Rhinebeck, NY. 

Justice65
Justice65

These poor schmucks are fighting for table scraps. Stop and Shop has over 11 billion is sales per year. The company ships most of the profits to its parent company in Holland. The Dutch laugh at the American worker as we scramble to get a 25 cent raise every six months. The get the American consumer with their inflated prices. Check your food bill next time you go shopping at Stop and Shop. Very little of your hard earned money is going towards their employees. We need to support the American worker. If the workers chose to strike, we must vow not cross their picket lines. We need to hit these multi-national conglomerates where it hurts. Maybe you can shop in an American grocer like Shop Rite, Dagostinos, Gristedes, King Kullen.

mickey.king87
mickey.king87

All you people who don't know what is actually going on behind the scenes should really not speak like you have any clue what''s going on. This union takes it on the chin from Stop And Shop time and time again and now they are fed up. 

BBMW
BBMW

I think the workers should think long and hard about pulling a strike.  I would not be hard for Stop and Shop to replace them, and dump the union in the process.

Gerry Bell
Gerry Bell

As a tremendously high calibre individual, I'm disappointed.

Vh Hurtado
Vh Hurtado

I live in Manhattan and I never heard of 'em. Must be an outer boro thingy

Andrew Eck
Andrew Eck

Not to be insensitive, but I assure you the Stop & Shop here in White Plains could replace their employees within hours. They really don't employ tremendously high-caliber individuals.

Peter Beckerle
Peter Beckerle

yeah like there is NO other grocery store here.....

FreeMarkets
FreeMarkets

@Justice65 Do you think that the inflated prices could have something to do with the employees being paid time and a half on Sundays? It's basic economics.. the more the employees demand (overtime, paid time off, low cost (to them) health insurance, etc, etc), the more the customers will pay. Even the expectation of .50 cents/hour yearly raise (while not providing any increase in value in the workplace) is ridiculous. For those who value shopping at an American-owned business, they absolutely SHOULD shop elsewhere - but employees would do well to understand that the decrease in sales will have an impact.

An alternative would be for the employees to get whatever they want ($20/hr, 40hr guaranteed, 1.5x Sundays, 2x Holidays, FREE healthcare, etc) - and then vote amongst themselves to decide who stays and who goes.

slaurine
slaurine

@Justice65 You are SO RIGHT I work at Giant  Food in Maryland which is now owned by Royal Ahold. I have been there for 32 years and have NEVER seen the hours cut to nothing and them wanting more more more

justinian1974
justinian1974

@BBMW Actualy it takes weeks to properly train someone to stock and maintain the shelves, and that is just one aspect of it... the department heads are union.. If the company has someone that dose not know what they are doing make a wrong adjustment to the meat or dairy order, you could be looking at 100s of thousands of dollars of wasted product. If they were to strike the company would lose millions in just a few days and it would be a disaster...

justinian1974
justinian1974

@Andrew Eck 

Not really... It takes about 2 to 3 weeks to properly train someone just to stock the shelves properly..and that is just 1 aspect. The department heads of Stop and Shop are union, you also have to know how to check vendors  in, learn how to use the soft wear to adjust the orders for the different departments... one wrong adjustment to the dairy or meat orders could result in 100s of thousands of dollars of wasted food...It would be a disaster, and the company would loose millions of dollars in just 1 week...

mickey.king87
mickey.king87

@Andrew Eck  No sir, it's more like Stop And Shop has a policy right now called Project Fix and they are trying to run their stores with really low staffing and are cutting hours from all their employees all the while still making more profits as a company each year. They want to take away all heath benefits for part time employees, no overtime, full timers pay 90% of their heath insurance and time and a half taken away on Sundays. They're making their employees not give a crap in return. So your arrogant statement is a far reach to be honest. I know a lot of great people in the White Plains and North White Plains Stop And Shop. There are so many people like you who seem to think you're better than these people who serve you when you walk in, or that they aren't "high-caliber individuals". Shop somewhere else if the people aren't on your level. ASSHOLE

slaurine
slaurine

@justinian1974 @BBMW I think they should strike and us in Maryland local 400 at Giant Food who is owned by Ahold should strike at SAME TIME

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