WESTBURY, NY (11/01/2013)(readMedia)–
A ground swell of public support for over 5,500 unionized Stop and Shop employees seeking a new labor contract was “callously” disregarded by management as the company refused to sign a Union offer of a two week contract extension. The Union, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 (UFCW), in deference to shoppers and their communities, has agreed to temporarily allow workers to report to work while the Union continues to try to reach an acceptable agreement and avoid a strike that can legally take place anytime after midnight November 3rd.
Local 1500 was given the authority to call a strike by Stop and Shop employees on October 28th in response to their employers attempts to drastically reduce their employee healthcare benefits and, for some workers, eliminate them completely. The strike authorization remains in effect until an acceptable agreement is reached.
Effected Stop and Shop employees are employed by Stop and Shop Supermarkets operating in Long Island, the five boroughs, Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties.
“The overwhelming response from the public in support of the Stop and Shop employees has failed to encourage the company to sign the two week contract extension offered by the Union,” said Anthony Speelman, Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW Local 1500 and lead negotiator for the Unions Stop and Shop Negotiating Committee. “The workers have received unprecedented backing from consumers, politicians, community groups and labor organizations. These same people are being callously ignored by Stop and Shop management who are clearly prioritizing their greed over their employees and customers needs,” Speelman continued.
“Despite Stop and Shops disregard for their loyal workers and shoppers, the Union will not immediately commence a strike and will remain at the bargaining table,” Speelman stated. “However, it takes two parties to make a deal and Stop and Shop’s approach to these negotiations has been one-sided and obstinate. If they do not change their approach, a strike is inevitable, ” Speelman concluded.
“Stop and Shop management fails to understand that shoppers who come to our stores are not just customers but are also friends and neighbors,” said Greg Pasquale, Produce Manager for Stop and Shop in Beekman, New York and a member of the Unions Negotiating Committee. “My co-workers and I do not want to inconvenience shoppers, lose pay or create economic hardship for our communities. However, management must come back to the table with a new attitude and partner with us to reach a fair agreement to avoid a strike,” Pasquale concluded.
The Union has launched a massive public information campaign that includes press outreach, social media and labor to neighbor organizing. They are also engaging elected officials via meetings, phone calls and emails.
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, based out of Westbury, New York represents grocery workers in New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties. Members of Local 1500 are employed by A&P/Pathmark, Fairway, Stop and Shop, Gristedes, D’Agastinos, Key Food, Shop Rite and King Kullen. Stay up to date with UFCW Local 1500 on twitter @ufcw1500, facebook.com/ufcw1500,www.ufcw1500.org.