News & Events

Mediation begins, but Shaw’s strike goes on

By Jenn Abelson, Globe Staff  |  March 30, 2010

Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc. and its striking employees failed to reach an agreement when they met yesterday with a federal mediator. Workers’ protests are expected to continue today.

About 300 employees from a Methuen distribution center have been on strike since March 7, after having rejected a final contract offer. It would have resulted in a net loss in compensation, the workers said.

“Shaw’s wasn’t interested in bargaining,’’ said Peter Derouen, a spokesman for about 300 Shaw’s employees who belong to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 791. “They were there to demand that we take this inferior offer. There was no compromise. Nothing.’’

Judy Chong, a spokeswoman for Shaw’s, said:

“The union advised us it intended to continue this unnecessary strike instead of accepting the fair contract offer we put on the table more than three weeks ago. We hope the union will reconsider and accept that offer, which will not be improved and will not be available indefinitely.’’

On Friday, dozens of other unions joined striking Shaw’s workers to escalate the protest across New England after Shaw’s said it was beginning the process of hiring workers to permanently replace striking employees. The strike will continue until an agreement is reached, Derouen said.

Chong declined to comment on whether replacements had started working at the Methuen plant, which provides much of the produce and dairy products Shaw’s sells in New England.

“We have received a number of quality applicants who have expressed interest in the roles,’’ Chong said. “We will continue plans to recruit and hire replacement workers.’’