Shopping stopped at Stop & Shop
April 12, 2019 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Roughly 31,000 employees of the grocery store chain Stop & Shop launched the largest private-sector strike in the U.S. in years, walking off the job at 240 stores across New England on Thursday.

The chain operates 400-plus stores in the Northeast United States, and is owned by Dutch retail conglomerate Ahold Delhaize. Stop & Shop says that "a majority" of stores have reopened with replacement workers who crossed the picket lines, but not all. Senators (and presidential candidates) Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders tweeted their support for the unions.
posted by Etrigan (62 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, so they hired scabs.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:26 AM on April 12 [13 favorites]

Count me as happy to see workers striking again. About time!
posted by kozad at 8:26 AM on April 12 [20 favorites]

I walked past on my usual route and was sure to give the picket line a big smile, a wave and a word. I've been avoiding Stop & Shop for a while because I heard this was about to happen, but I think that if I'd heard of this deathless entity I might have avoided it anyway.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:28 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]

My bestie's husband is a manager at a Stop & Shop, and she's just posted a facebook message supporting the strikers so I'm assuming he's one of their 31,000.

BRB I'm gonna text her the lyrics to "Solidarity Forever".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:31 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders tweeted their support for the unions.

Per Dave Weigel's tweet of this headline, I believe Warren will be at least briefly at the pickets.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:33 AM on April 12 [8 favorites]

Food Lion and Giant are also owned by the same company so, you know, avoid.
posted by The Whelk at 8:38 AM on April 12 [12 favorites]

Remember folks, you can also always join the picket, or bring food or drinks to the picket, to show your support!
posted by corb at 8:47 AM on April 12 [31 favorites]

I'm surprised they can hire scabs in the current economy. Looks like management wants workers to pay a higher percentage of their health care costs, cut Sunday bonus pay from time and a half to $2 extra per hour, and cut back on worker's 10 current paid holidays per year. So, basically, ruin most of the stuff that makes working for a grocery store tolerable. To someone who has made a career with Stop and Shop, I'd imagine those are terrifying cuts. Being able to take days off without losing out your paycheck is just so valuable.

Even assuming the workers win here, it seems like in most of the less affluent areas of the country, Walmart "neighborhood" grocery stores, Dollar General, etc., have already taken such a big bite out of the market that the unionized stores are walking dead--unless we make some move to prevent them externalizing so much of their labor costs onto the public by treating employees like disposable commodities. Where I live (small city in poor, rural, deep red state), there's only one unionized shop (Rouses) within reasonable driving distance, but 3(!) walmarts within a smaller radius.
posted by skewed at 8:54 AM on April 12 [14 favorites]

When I was a teenager in Northampton, MA, there were two big grocery stores: Stop and Shop, and Big Y. Stop and Shop was union, Big Y was not. Yet S&S paid less, and was generally more miserable to work at.

Stop and Shop has been fighting unions and being a miserable employer for at least 20 years. The workers are absolutely right to strike; I'd never believe that Stop and Shop is being reasonable in the slightest. Definitely not surprised they're hiring scabs right away.
posted by explosion at 9:03 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]

I found out about this by going grocery shopping yesterday afternoon. I go to my local Stop & Shop all the time, I know a lot of the folks who work there, and they were all outside of it picketing when I got there yesterday. I waved to them, turned around and went to the Dave's Marketplace that's 5 minutes further from my house. I hope they win.

One thought that struck me later, when I came home and was reading the articles about it, is listening to the management plead "boo hoo we have such a hard time competing with all the non-union stores" - well, management, there's two ways you can handle that. You can either crack down hard on your own union, OR you can support your union, make it point of your advertising that you're a union store (I literally didn't know that until yesterday!), reap the benefits of the positive publicity from that, and, at least indirectly, encourage all the workers at the other chain stores to unionize. It doesn't have to be a race to the bottom; that's purely a choice that the management makes.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:07 AM on April 12 [51 favorites]

So as a power-to-the-people and eat-the-rich kind of a guy who lives in new york where there's not a strike, should I be shopping elsewhere for a while? Stop and Shop is usually my go to grocery place.
posted by Shutter at 9:12 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]

Between this and the Market Basket walkout a few years ago, we here in New England have had some real grocery store labor drama. I'm a Market Basket loyalist, so I can't S&S any more than I already do, but I gave the strikers a honk and a "power to the people" fist raise today.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:13 AM on April 12 [12 favorites]

I think that if I'd heard of this deathless entity I might have avoided it anyway

My god I hate that stupid robot with its stupid fake-friendly googly eyes; they've had one clumsily beeping its way through our local S&S for weeks now and I hate it to a truly irrational degree. I do not understand how a seven foot tall robotic surveillance system backed by human observers on the other side of the planet is less expensive than just paying an employee to walk the aisles every now and then.

Will not be crossing this picket line unless it's to kick a robot in the ass.
posted by ook at 9:13 AM on April 12 [15 favorites]

This is amazing: teachers and baggers are leading us all and should be supported. With robots sashaying about and auto checkout a reality, the remaining workers should be treated well. I didn't know the whole store was union, I would have guessed that only the butchers were. The only bummer where I live is that the S&S is situated to avoid what would be a big big food desert. With that and the respect I've seen shown to their workers with intellectual disabilities - I hope the action is vigorous and gets results soon.
posted by drowsy at 9:26 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]

So as a power-to-the-people and eat-the-rich kind of a guy who lives in new york where there's not a strike, should I be shopping elsewhere for a while?

posted by praemunire at 9:30 AM on April 12 [16 favorites]

Bestie has responded; she's sent me a screenshot of a flyer and encouraged me to share it with y'all, but that will have to wait until I get home. In the meantime I will also share the accompanying text:

"I know people who stretch out their medicine - including insulin - to make it last longer because there is a cap on pharmacy payments. Meanwhile, top douchecanoe is raking in $25,000 a day. They lie so much they must be running out of pants."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:43 AM on April 12 [11 favorites]

Apparently, Shop Rite/pricerite are part of a cooperative and are Union shops.

Sucks that I hate going to ours - always weirdly both dim and noisy - but I already discussed this with my local rep weeks ago when it was seemingly imminent.
posted by cobaltnine at 9:48 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]

Warren did more than just tweet her support. She did that most Massachusetts of things and brought Dunkin' Donuts donuts to one of the picket lines.

And yeah, that stupid robot sucks.
posted by adamg at 9:51 AM on April 12 [31 favorites]

Food Lion and Giant are also owned by the same company so, you know, avoid.

Also Hannaford, which in a lot of small towns in New England is the only option.
posted by anastasiav at 9:51 AM on April 12 [7 favorites]

Good grief, it's like concentrating so many chains in one conglomerate only benefits the owners, not the workers or customers!

Like mstokes650, I'll by stopping by my local (Rhode Island) Dave's this weekend.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:55 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]

Psst, I found scabs in the produce at Stop & Shop, pass it on.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:01 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]

I'm in the Midwest and have access to cooperative groceries and soon a quality farmer's market, but I lived on the east coast for ten years and strongly endorse everyone who usually hits Stop and Shop or one of the other stores owned by the same chain to shop elsewhere, let Stop and Shop know why you're shopping elsewhere, and offer whatever support you can to the strikers. Every benefit any of us have as workers comes from people in the labor movement stepping up.

If anyone has a link to a wishlist or GoFundMe for the strikers, please link.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:30 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]

Market Basket Forever!
posted by youthenrage at 10:59 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]

can anyone explain why this only affects S&S stores in three NE states?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:13 AM on April 12

Also Hannaford

Dang, thanks for the heads up, i did not realize that. Looks like I'll be shopping at Shaw's or Star Market for a while then.
posted by solotoro at 11:20 AM on April 12

Local 1445 covers only those 3 states. There could be a solidarity strike by the unions covering neighboring areas, but that hasn't yet happened.
posted by explosion at 11:22 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]

Bestie posted the flyer on her Facebook; I can't get it to link here, so I'll quote an abridged version. It's from a statement by the union for firefighters in Danbury, CT, Local 801.

"Despite Stop & Shop's parent company Ahold Delhaize's 2 billion dollar profit in 2018 and despite giving their shareholders a 11.1% dividend increase just this week, UFCW workers have been asked to take zero raises over the next 3 years, in addition to healthcare and retirement cuts.

The principle officers of Local 801 encourage you to ask your family and friends not to cross the picket lines and to take business elsewhere until the strike is over. Local 801 will demonstrate solidarity with the striking UFCW workers of Stop & Shop. You can help out by holding a sign, walking their picket lines, or dropping off coffee & snacks to the striking workers."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:33 AM on April 12 [16 favorites]

Stop and Shop is the worst. They have expensive produce and there was always a better deal -- we always went to M&M farms, now replaced by Orange Farmers Market, and in Providence, there was always PriceRite. Definitely don't cross the picket line, but afaik there was never a reason to go anyway.
posted by batter_my_heart at 12:30 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]

One of my first jobs was at a stop and shop. It was utterly miserable and consisted primary of elderly people screaming at me because coupons didn't work the way they thought they did. However it did employ lots of people who had been there for years and made a reasonable living in an accessible job.

Support the picketers and be kind to your cashiers, they need it.
posted by Ferreous at 1:11 PM on April 12 [6 favorites]

t batter my heart, not to be an ass but did you consider that the costs might be higher because a union prevented them from racing to the bottom on the backs of poorly paid laborers?
posted by Ferreous at 1:13 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]

Grocery is just a land of miserable.
Spouse did 25 years at Albertsons before the SVU Safeway now non-stock conglomerate that it is. She won't step foot into either one of them now; and post SVU buyout; the local stores seem to have totally new staff and checkers.
Amazon (Whole Foods), KR, and Walmart are all in a battle to the bottom over groceries now too.

/R/ if I worked in a grocery; it would be another episode of back to school for more education. It is a losing game; being fought against folk that will just hire more people to work so much as chattle.
posted by Afghan Stan at 1:48 PM on April 12

Dave's is my usual grocery but I did think it was a bit busier than usual today. I hope it was because shoppers refused to cross the picket line at S&S and came there instead.
posted by Botanizer at 1:50 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]

Hell. Yes.

Psssttt... go read No Shortcuts or listen to some interviews with Jane McAlevey
posted by latkes at 2:09 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]

I no longer live in Stop and Shop country, but I always appreciated how well done their automated checkout systems were. I miss that mobile scanner, and full size checkout lanes that give you plenty of space for bagging.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:27 PM on April 12

As Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers insisted, we should all drive past the Stop and Shop, ideally with the radio on.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 2:55 PM on April 12 [10 favorites]

Actually, no, I never did, and that's a fair point. I always assumed that it was priced high because white people shopped at S&S, and white people don't buy a lot of produce, so can afford to pay more per unit.

M&M Farms employed mostly local high schoolers, and I have no idea about PriceRite's labor practices; a quick search shows mixed results (workers were punished for trying, workers are still trying?).
posted by batter_my_heart at 3:59 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]

So what's the recommendation on Bfresh — who have the same owner as Stop and Shop, and whose workers belong to the same union but aren't striking (presumably because they have a separate contract)?

Is the right line of thought "I should avoid them right now because their owner is being picketed" or "I should keep shopping there to support a union store; and anyway, if they wanted to strike they could"?
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:08 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]

This strike is big news here on the Vineyard, where we have 2 Stop and Shops, 1.5 Cronigs, and the Reliable Market which has very little parking. Also there are people who just can't afford to not shop at the the Stop and Shop for long. On top of that, the Edgartown store has been planning a big expansion!
posted by vrakatar at 9:13 PM on April 12

I'm at the S&S in my town at least twice a week - I live alone and shop in an "as needed" style. I drove by and gave the folks striking some encouragement - they were all pumped and grateful for that encouragement.
posted by sundrop at 8:27 AM on April 13

Oh don't get me started on SuperValu. Those pieces of shit made all the (union, in Oklahoma!) Albertson's employees apply for continued employment after the effective date of the purchase. New jobs that, of course, had a much lower pay scale.

Just because you're allowed to be a piece of shit under state law doesn't mean you have to take that opportunity. I'm not sure why people have come to believe that the bare minimum required by law is a reasonable standard of behavior rather than simply a cutoff beyond which your actions are so antisocial you can be penalized for it.
posted by wierdo at 8:35 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]

Boston DSA And Pioneer Valley DSA helping out striking workers
posted by The Whelk at 11:47 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]

The parking lot at Shaw's in Sturbridge was very full today - more than normal. I did not go to SnS to see if their parking lot was empty. It's was off my errand route today. But I bet people are going to Shaw's instead.

I would feel terrible if any of the SnS people I have been engaging with for years saw me go past the picket line.
posted by andreap at 2:10 PM on April 13

BREAKING., Teamsters won’t provide delivery, other services in solidarity with the Stop and Ahop workers Also “A rabbi in New Haven says of the Stop & Shop strike: “Any food purchased by crossing a picket line or from scab workers is not kosher for Passover.” Rabbi Tilsen of Beth El-Keser Israel said it is “a matter of well-established Jewish law.”
posted by The Whelk at 7:29 PM on April 14 [10 favorites]

Stop & Shop strike: What you need to know - "The Amity Stop & Shop in New Haven is open, but the gas station is closed. Only only self check-outs is available with no cashiers. Workers outside the entrance said many shoppers came Thursday and went inside the store anyway, saying they didn’t know about the strike. Self checkouts were open, but no cash registers were open."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:40 AM on April 15

You mentioned the Cape Cod Stop and Shop; my parents are really torn by this, because the Stop and Shop near them is also where their pharmacy is. They can go to another grocery store for the bread and milk or whatever, but they still gotta pick up their regular medications (Mom's dealing with the aftermath of Lyme disease, Dad has RA).

So now I'm curious - for cases where the Stop and Shop in question is also someone's pharmacy, and they can't switch to another store as easily (switching pharmacies is tough, even more so where that may be the only game in town), what's the picket line protocol?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:17 AM on April 16

So now I'm curious - for cases where the Stop and Shop in question is also someone's pharmacy, and they can't switch to another store as easily (switching pharmacies is tough, even more so where that may be the only game in town), what's the picket line protocol?

The example of the Prayer for Eating Chametz on Passover – in Bergen Belsen 1944 might be of help. In essence, you do what you can, but don't let your morals kill you.
posted by Etrigan at 12:53 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]

Mater and Patercallipygos checked back in to report that they're going to the other supermarket for groceries ("and it's crowded, but this is important"). They also say that Dad did go pick up some medication the other day, but as you say, the strikers were cool with it and got that "listen, people need medication". I was worried for naught.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:11 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]

Three cheers for the Callipygoi! Glad to hear it went well.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:58 PM on April 17

Oh yes the PV DSA S&S Strike FUnd
posted by The Whelk at 9:07 PM on April 17

I've seen DSA chapters linking to that second strike fund, but I can't find a link to it from the union's own official page. How confident should I be that it's legit?
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:27 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]

I can’t find confirmation for that link but the pioneer valley dsa strike fund says they’re about to cut a big ol’ check to the Union.

Also lol empty stop and shop
posted by The Whelk at 7:08 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]

Oh wait the SEU official twitter posted the fundraiser link so that’s a sign it’s legit
posted by The Whelk at 7:39 AM on April 21

Hell yeah, thank you!
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:57 PM on April 21

“BREAKING UPDATE: minutes ago, UFCW reached a Tentative Agreement w Stop & Shop. Members have yet to vote on whether to accept, and end the strike. In the meantime, while we wait for the vote to be scheduled over the next couple days, we will return to work tomorrow-- [1/2]

[2/2] This is a very positive development that we could not have achieved without your unyielding support!! Please, stay closely tuned to this page or our fb over the next 72 hours as we will update you with more information when we have it.“

posted by The Whelk at 6:02 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]

« Older Preserving and restoring computer history   |   New York City And The Green New Deal Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments