MEDFORD, Mass. - The picket line began around 7 a.m. Friday morning at the Stop & Shop in Medford. The store usually opens at 6 a.m., but instead began business hours at 8 a.m. with replacement workers and self-checkout aisles doing the heavy lifting.
At 1:15 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, 31,000 union workers across New England made good on the strike authorization vote that Boston 25 reported on in late February.
Their contract with Stop & Shop expired in late February and union workers picketing outside the stores said they want a better contract than the company's offering.
"I hope not," said Joe Villanucci, a Union Steward from Local 1445, when asked if he thought the strike would last through Easter. "We support them."
Stop & Shop told Boston 25 News in a statement it must remain competitive.
"Given that negotiations with assistance of the federal mediators are continuing, we are disappointed that the UFCW chose to order a work stoppage in an attempt to disrupt service at our stores. Stop & Shop has contingency plans in place to minimize disruption."
Villanucci, however, had a different perspective on the strike.
"This company made $2 billion in profit last year and instead of investing in their workers, they've been investing in automation and buying back stocks," he said. "So, we’re here to protect the workers of Stop & Shop. We're [going to] stay out here as long as we have to."
So, what does this mean for customers?
Stop & Shop says anyone with a prescription at a pharmacy inside or a bank account at a bank branch inside will have access to the stores despite the limited hours.
Peapod deliveries are also expected to continue.
The company says that the majority of Stop & Shops will be open Friday in New England. However, most will have modified hours of 8am-8pm. Gas stations will remain closed.
Stop & Shop is on-site in Providence as well. Officials from the company say they stand ready to head back to the bargaining table at any time.
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