Stop & Shop ran full-page ads in several New England newspapers as around 31,000 striking workers in the region continue to picket about 240 stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
“This strike is hard for all of us,” Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop noted in the ad, which ran in the Hartford Courant and the Providence Journal, among other newspapers. “This shouldn’t be happening.”
The grocer went on to describe its offer to the unionized workers, which it said included “pay increases for all associates, health care with deductibles that wouldn’t change, increased contributions for the employee pension plans, [a]nd no changes in paid time off or holidays for current associates.”
Stop & Shop then urged the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union to work with it to “solve the problem.”
The ad echoes an April 12 message posted on Stop & Shop’s website from President Mark McGowan, in which he affirmed, that despite the current “challenging time,” he “and the entire Stop & Shop team remain firmly committed to getting a fair new contract in place for all of our associates in New England.”
When asked by Progressive Grocer why Stop & Shop ran the ad, a company spokeswoman responded: “Shop & Shop is committed to transparency and honesty, and these advertisements serve as another platform for us to share our perspective and the facts around our offers with our customers and associates. We have also published our full offers to the five UFCW locals on our website as part of this commitment.”
The spokeswoman added, “We are continuing to bargain in good faith and hope to reach fair new agreements as soon as possible so that we can return to doing what we do best – taking care of our customers.
UFCW Locals 328, 371, 1445, 1459 and 919 weren’t impressed by the grocer’s campaign, however.
“Stop & Shop can buy as many ads as they want, but they can’t change the facts,” the locals countered in a statement, adding that the grocer’s “latest proposal will drastically increase out-of-pocket health care costs, kick approximately 1,000 employees’ spouses off of their health care plan, and make it more challenging for 31,000 people to provide for themselves and their families. If the company’s most recent offer becomes a reality, every working family, neighborhood, consumer, and community will be hurt.”
The locals went out on strike on April 11, after voting earlier in the year to authorize such an action. The two sides have been negotiating a new contract since January, with health care premiums and coverage of spouses, pension benefits, and time-and-a-half pay on Sundays and holidays for part-time workers proving to be particular sticking points.
Stop & Shop operates more than 400 stores throughout New York, New England and New Jersey, with 60,000-plus associates. Its parent company, Ahold Delhaize USA, is No. 4 on Progressive Grocer’s 2018 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.