24-hour deadline will expire today
By Katie Johnston Chase, Globe Staff | March 5, 2010
Union leaders involved in contract talks with Quincy-based Stop & Shop have issued 24-hour notices to end the current contract, which could trigger a strike if an agreement isn’t reached by noon today.
The main points of contention, according to United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445 – one of five locals involved in the negotiations – are higher health insurance contributions and a lack of wage increases. The company also wants to reduce the pension for new full-time workers and reduce holidays for new part timers.
The labor contract covering 36,000 meat cutters, cashiers, and other supermarket workers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut expired last month. Negotiations started in early January.
If the workers strike, Stop & Shop plans to bring in temporary replacement workers to keep its 240 stores in the three states open. As part of a strike contingency plan, Stop & Shop began placing help-wanted ads in newspapers last month.
“Our members are frustrated because Stop & Shop’s profits have increased,’’ said Local 1445 spokesman Jim Carvalho. “They represent the largest market share for all the supermarkets in New England, and our members are disappointed by Stop & Shop’s negative approach toward these negotiations. They don’t want to strike, but they feel Stop & Shop is forcing them into that position.’’
Stop & Shop is owned by Ahold USA. In its last earnings release, the company reported that net sales at Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover had increased 10.5 percent to $4.4 billion.
Stop & Shop spokeswoman Faith Weiner said the company is negotiating in good faith to reach an agreement.
“We are exchanging proposals and working to narrow the gap on open issues,’’ she said. “Progress continues to be made.’’
Katie Johnston Chase can be reached at email@example.com.