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April 24, 2019IM -
Twelve days after 31,000 Stop & Shop grocery store workers at 241 locations across New England walked off their jobs in protest of proposed cuts to their health care, pensions, and overtime pay, the company conceded defeat.
“Today is a powerful victory for the 31,000 hardworking men and women of Stop & Shop who courageously stood up to fight for what all New Englanders want—good jobs, affordable health care, a better wage, and to be treated right by the company they made a success,” the union said in a statement.
The workers’ previous three-year contract had expired February 23 and the union was seeking better wages. The president of Stop & Shop, Mark McGowan, said in a statement in early April that the union’s proposed contract was “unsustainable” and could lead to higher prices for consumers.
The walkout started April 11 and, by April 23, representatives from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) announced a tentative agreement had been reached with the company to end the strike. The agreement preserves health care and retirement benefits, provides wage increases, and maintains time-and-a-half pay on Sunday for current members.
“This has been a historic strike—Stop & Shop workers have shown that strike action works,” Head of UNI Global Union Commerce Mathias Bolton says. The UFCW is an affiliate of UNI. “It’s a massive win for workers everywhere—31,000 workers sent a strong message to management that, if you stand up for your colleagues, your families, and good jobs, the world will sit up and take notice.”
Stop & Shop lost more $2 million in sales, according to estimates. The victory against Stop & Shop “emboldens workers across the public and private sector,” Lane Windham, a labor expert at Georgetown University, tells The New Republic. “People get energized when they see other people standing up and winning. They can inspire more people to walk out in 2019.”