'Everybody is hurting': Stop & Shop workers, company far from making pact

Talks and demonstrations continue on Tuesday, marking Day 6 of the strike, but still no resolution for the 31,000 Stop & Shop workers or the company has been made.

The union demonstrators are holding their picket lines steady, as they express their frustration over proposed benefit cuts and pensions, and continue to seek higher wages.

Outside the stores, union workers are asking customers to steer clear. However, not all of them are doing so.

One person who walked right by the picket line at the North Andover Stop & Shop was Boston Bruins legend Ray Bourque.

Bourque later tweeted that he made a mistake by crossing the picket line and did so because of a medicial condition he needed to tend to.

“Being a union hockey player for 22 years, I respect Unions and the work that they do. I have a medical condition that I was preparing for this morning and mistakenly crossed the picket line at Stop & Shop. On my way out I apologized immediately,” he said.

Meanwhile, parking lots at various Stop & Shop locations including Dedham, Dorchester, Roxbury and Quincy are largely empty. And the company said all its gas stations are closed.

In a Monday email to Stop & Shop customers, the company's president, Mark McGowan, apologized for the inconvenience and said they were working on labor negotiations to get employees back to work.

The email said Stop & Shop is committed to keeping its doors open as the strike continues.

"It's kind of sad because we are not here to service our neighbors,” said James Hall, one of the workers on strike.

Stop & Shop has declined interview requests, but released a statement saying in part:

"In contrast, the unions have proposed an unsustainable retail contract, including a wage proposal that is more than two times higher than any recent UFCW contract agreement, that could ultimately lead to higher prices for consumers and a less successful future for our business."

On Tuesday morning, a Stop & Shop spokesperson said in an email that negotiations are ongoing with the support of federal mediators.

The spokesperson also provided some facts about the company's health care proposals.

In the email, she said Stop & Shop would pay at least 92% of health premiums for family coverage and at least 88% for individual coverage, which is more than what other large retail employers pay.

"Even with national health care costs increasing rapidly, associates still would pay well below the national average for health premiums," she added.

While the talks continue, the workers have been standing.

"We have been working hard, devoting ourselves to this company and to everything, for what?" said worker Iloisa Brandao. "So now they can come and say, we're gonna cut your vacation, we're gonna cut your paycheck.”

Stop & Shop is acknowledging that it has limited its offerings during the strike affecting 240 supermarkets in New England and is apologizing to customers for the inconvenience.

McGowan said in a letter Tuesday that most stores will remain open for 12 hours, seven days a week. However, he says bakery, customer service, deli, seafood counters and gas stations will not be operational. Stop & Shop also says additional police and security personnel are at some stores as a precaution.

A representative told Boston 25 that the sides are not close to coming to a pact.

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