NEW ENGLAND—Yesterday, Stop & Shop workers represented by five United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Unions achieved a solid victory when they ratified a three-year contract agreement securing affordable, quality health care with access for all Stop & Shop workers.
With the support of community members and other employees of Dutch-owned Stop & Shop parent company Ahold, workers held firm in their resolve to improve health care accessibility, quality, and cost for part-timers as well as full-timers. They achieved their aims, with a contract that cuts new hires’ waiting period for health care in half and requires no monthly contribution towards health care from part-timers, who make up 80 percent of the Stop & Shop workforce in New England. Full-timers will make a modest, affordable monthly contribution towards health care premiums. Workers were also able to secure good wage increases and retirement security for all Stop & Shop employees.
Coordinated action with supporters and customers was key to the workers’ success. Community members and grocery workers sent emails of support, called store managers and Stop & Shop CEO Jose Alvarez, wrote letters to the editors of local newspapers, and signed petitions promising not to shop at Stop & Shop if workers were forced to strike.
UFCW members working for Ahold companies in other areas on the East Coast posted flyers in their stores, held rallies and leafleted customers. Presidents of UFCW Local Unions representing Ahold workers attended a bargaining session with Stop & Shop to show solidarity with New England workers.
The coordinated effort in New England is part of a nationwide bargaining unity program among UFCW grocery workers. Over 400,000 UFCW grocery workers across the country and in Canada are negotiating new contracts throughout 2007. By supporting each other regionally and nationally, as well as engaging customers and community members in their struggle, grocery workers can improve grocery industry jobs for themselves and their communities.