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Stop and Shop union members authorize strike

WEST HARTFORD - Stop and Shop Union employees have threatened to strike after a failed attempt to reach a new contract with the grocery chain.

A number of Stop and Shop employees gathered for a meeting in Cromwell on Wednesday to vote against or in favor of the new contract proposed by Stop and Shop.

The previous contract had expired on February 23rd.

Members of United Food and Commercial Workers International Local Union 371 rejected the contract. Afterwards, over 600 employees voted unanimously to authorize a strike.

In a statement, UFCW Local 371 President Tom Wilkinson said:

“We hope that yesterday’s decision will send a clear message that our Union family is committed to making Stop and Shop a better place to work and shop. The cuts that Stop and Shop are proposing not only hurt workers, but will also affect the customer service and shopping experience our communities have come to know and appreciate.”

Stop and Shop employees in New England are represented by five locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers International union. Local 1445 in Massachusetts has also authorized a strike and the three remaining Locals are meeting on Sunday.

Stop and Shop customers said they are not looking forward to the possibility of a strike.

“That worries me and if they do strike I won't cross a picket line, I'll find somewhere else to shop,” Bethany Berger said.

“I would be very sad, I mean, it’s really the only store we go to for groceries,” Natasha Patterson said.

The UFCW Local Unions represent 31,000 Stop and Shop employees throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Stop and Shop released an official statement:

“We are working hard to reach strong new contracts that will continue to provide highly competitive wages, comprehensive health care coverage and, unlike any other area food retailers, a defined benefit pension. we are proud of our relationship with associates and optimistic that we will be able to reach new agreements.”

Although members voted to authorize a strike, it does not mean it will take place. As of Thursday, Local 371 said there are no official plans for a strike.

“You’re only as strong as your weakest employee, so if your employees aren’t happy that’s everything,” Stop and Shop customer Allison Omara said.

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