After an 11-day strike, 31,000 Stop & Shop workers in New England went back on the job today after five locals of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with the supermarket chain.
“We are very pleased to announce Stop & Shop has reached fair new tentative agreements with UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445 and 1459, which represent our 31,000 associates in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. We’re also glad to have our associates return to work as the strike has ended,” Stop & Shop said in a statement Sunday evening.
The strike began on April 11 when Stop & Shop workers from the five locals walked off their jobs at more than 240 of the chain’s stores after the parties failed to reach an agreement in contract negotiations since mid-January. Chief among the employees’ concerns were proposals by Stop & Shop that UFCW said would increase workers’ contribution for health care coverage, pare monthly pension benefits and lift wages only slightly for part-time employees.
The tentative three-year contract accords reached last night still must be ratified by members of the five UFCW locals. Stop & Shop said the agreements raised pay for all associates and continue “excellent health coverage” plus ongoing defined benefit pension benefits for all eligible associates.
“Under this proposed contract, our members will be able to focus on continuing to help customers in our communities enjoy the best shopping experience possible and to keep Stop & Shop the No. 1 grocery store in New England,” UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445 and 1459 said in a statement on Sunday. “The agreement preserves health care and retirement benefits, provides wage increases and maintains time-and-a-half pay on Sunday for current members.”
Neither party disclosed terms of the tentative contract agreement. Department managers and daytime full-time employees were informed to report to work Monday morning, while other employees were told they would be contacted about their work schedule, published reports said.
“Our associates’ top priority will be restocking our stores so we can return to taking care of our customers and communities and providing them with the service they deserve,” Stop & Shop stated. “We deeply appreciate the patience and understanding of our customers during this time, and we look forward to welcoming them back to Stop & Shop.”
Striking Stop & Shop workers received strong support from local, state and federal officials, who stood with them on picket lines and attended rallies. Officials expressing support for the employees included former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D.-Mass.), Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts State Treasurer Deb Goldberg.
Many customers also appeared to be backing the striking Stop & Shop employees. To gauge the impact of the strike, location data specialist Skyhook conducted a foot traffic analysis of anonymized mobile devices that typically visit Stop & Shop once per week in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island and checked to see if those customers stopped going to Stop & Shop during this time span and went to a different grocery store instead.
During the initial days of the strike, from April 12 to 14, many customers didn’t go grocery shopping, as the number of visits from loyal Stop & Shop customers to all grocery stores fell about 50% compared with visits from April 5 to 7, while loyal customer visits to Stop & Shop dropped 75%, reported Brittany Dervan, marketing manager for Skyhook.
Dervan said in a blog post that loyal Stop & Shop customers who did grocery shopping between April 12 and 14 went to other stores, with Hannaford seeing a 300% gain in foot traffic from loyal Stop & Shop customers, Market Basket a 115% increase, Trader Joe’s a 75% rise, and Shaw’s and Star Market a 50% uptick. Hannaford is part of Ahold Delhaize USA, the same parent company as Stop & Shop.
“We are incredibly grateful to our customers and everyone who proudly stood together with us every day for a contract that invests in the communities we serve, and makes Stop & Shop a better place to work and a better place to shop,” the UFCW locals commented upon reaching the settlement.
“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 statement added.