SOMERVILLE, Mass. — Stop & Shop workers across New England walked off the job Thursday due to ongoing contract negotiations and continue to strike.
UFCW Locals, the union representing 31,000 Stop & Shop workers in New England have been negotiating a new contract with representatives since mid-February.
The fight centers on health insurance, pensions and vacation time.
Stop & Shop says it has offered proposals that "would ensure full-time associates continue to be among the highest paid food retail workers in the region."
The union, on the other hand, says Stop & Shop is looking to "degrade the quality of life" of workers.
One of the workers in Somerville, Michael Stuart, said he gave his coworkers the order to strike.
"Yeah, it wasn't easy. I had to go and tell all of my coworkers 'it's time to go' [and] they were looking at me like I had three heads,” Stuart said.
Every worker on strike has a core issue. For Micheal Sheehan, it's just about fairness.
"Just a fair contract, making sure we keep our jobs...really that's what I care about," he said.
Karen Ryan, another Stop & Shop worker in Somerville, joined the chorus of fellow union workers, admitting that walking out on management is not easy.
"We got the word that we're going to stand strong and stand united, we're going to fight for everything that they want to take back from us which is basically wages, medical benefits, the vacations, the sick time,” Ryan said. "I's very difficult to walk out on the store itself and the management teams in the stores, but it’s not difficult to walk out on the corporate."
Customers across Massachusetts are reporting that their stores are closed and they have been kicked out. And the customers that are able to go inside are limited to self check-out.
While the union stands firm in their fight for better benefits and wages, they are anticipating the strike won't go on for too much longer.
"They've got a lot of product in the stores rotting. Lots of stuff in the warehouses for Easter," said one of the workers. "Let's just hope they come to an agreement today or tomorrow."
Just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, workers on strike were moved to the side entrance and then to the street to lessen the distruption of businesses.
Boston 25 News received the following statement from Stop & Shop:
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