METHUEN, Mass. — Shaw's has told the union representing striking workers at its distribution center here that it has "started the process of recruiting and hiring permanent replacement workers" at the facility.
"We are extremely disappointed that it has come to this, but we have an obligation to protect our business and the livelihoods of our other 25,000 associates in New England," said Rebekah Fawcett, a spokeswoman for Shaw's parent company, Minneapolis-based Supervalu.
"This difficult business decision comes only after the union rebuffed our request earlier this month for a contract extension that would have allowed for continued productive negotiations. The union also rejected two contract offers that were not only fair and reasonable, but also realistic in our current business environment."
The company continues to talk with a federal mediator, she added. The workers, members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 791, went on strike March 7, objecting to increases in health care costs.
"Instead of returning to the bargaining table to negotiate a contract that provides decent wages and benefits, the company has taken this dispute to a new level by their intention of hiring permanent replacement workers," said Peter Derouen, a spokesman for the local.
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