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A union representing thousands of Stop & Shop workers in Massachusetts has voted to authorize a strike.
UFCW Local 1445's vote Sunday allows the union to call a strike if the contract dispute with the supermarket chain continues. The union is asking members to keep working while negotiations continue.
The fight centers on health insurance, pensions and vacation time. The union says Stop & Shop is looking to "degrade the quality of life" of workers.
Five union locals of the United Food & Commercial Workers have been negotiating with Stop & Shop for more than a month. Local 1445 is the first to vote on a strike.
UFCW Local 1445 president Jeff Bollen says members are angry that the company is trying to take away their benefits.
"It's all takeaways for a company that doesn't need takeaways," Bollen said. "This is not a need, it's a want. It's greed, it's corporate greed at its worst."
Kathleen McGaffigan, an employee at the Malden Stop & Shop for more than three decades, said she supports the strike authorization.
"I'm here today to bring light to what we've fought for all these years — good pay, wages, benefits," she said. "We've worked hard a long time to keep this company the way it is."
Stop & Shop says it has offered proposals that "would ensure full-time associates continue to be among the highest paid food retail workers in the region." It says an agreement must reflect the changes in the supermarket industry and allow it to offer customers the service and value they expect.
Both sides are continuing to negotiate.
With reporting from The Associated Press and WBUR's Simón Rios
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