Talks will resume Tuesday on a new contract for 40,000 Stop & Shop workers in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, the workers have already voted to authorize a strike if negotiations break down.
The old contract expired Saturday night with no sign of agreement in talks between unions and management. Thousands of workers from several different locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union voted over the weekend to authorize a strike. Brian Petronella, President of Local 371 says the strike vote is unusual while talks are still ongoing, but it was necessary because the sides are so far apart.
“Unfortunately in this situation there are so many moving parts that haven’t been put to bed – as a result we had to take this strike vote. We prefer not to – we try to get a contract done without having to take one, but in this kind of circumstance we had to because there’s nothing agreed upon as far as wages, pension or health insurance.”
The company wants to see workers contribute more to healthcare costs, and has also proposed one-time bonuses in place of a wage raise. Stop & Shop has been advertising for almost a month for potential replacement workers in case of a strike, and the company has said it's committed to try to keep stores open if workers do walk out. Talks resume Tuesday, and both sides have said they will remain at the negotiating table until at least February 28th.
For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.