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Both Sides In Stop & Shop Strike Are Feeling Pain

A striking Stop & Shop worker walks in front of the main entrance of the Somerville location on McGrath Highway on Thursday, when the strike began. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A striking Stop & Shop worker walks in front of the main entrance of the Somerville location on McGrath Highway on Thursday, when the strike began. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Seven days into the Stop & Shop strike, some of the grocery chain's stores are closed, while business at others is dwindling amid reduced hours and limited food selections.

Meanwhile, picketers are going without pay and say they don't expect much financial assistance from the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

In this labor standoff, leaders on each side appear loath to show weakness. Stop & Shop has emphasized in public statements that most of its stores remain open, and the UFCW has declined to answer questions about its reserve fund or plans to pay striking workers.

Last week, Matt Sorbello, a strike captain at Stop & Shop's Mansfield location, insisted the 31,000 employees who walked off the job could hold out "as long as it takes."

But another strike captain acknowledged Wednesday that the clock is ticking. Paul Batista, a butcher at the Stop & Shop on Everett Street in Allston, said the union won't begin to make up for lost wages until the strike hits the two-week mark — and the checks won't come close to regular pay: $100 per week for full-time workers and $50 per week for part timers.

"It's really nothing," Batista said.

A strike captain in Connecticut described some of the same conditions to the New Haven Independent.

At that rate, striking Stop & Shop workers would receive far less than Marriott hotel workers in Boston got from Unite Here Local 26 when they went on strike last year. The hotel workers initially received $300 per week; their union's executive committee later raised payments to $400 per week.

Batista said May 1 is an important date for striking Stop & Shop workers. That's when company-sponsored health insurance will lapse, he said.

Strikers can apply for unemployment benefits but might not receive them. According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, "employees participating in a labor dispute (i.e., strike) that results in a substantial curtailment of the employer's business do not qualify for benefits."

Related:

Callum Borchers Twitter Reporter
Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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