On Monday, U.S. Sen Richard Blumenthal met with striking Stop & Shop workers in New Britain, Bristol and Wallingford.
Blumenthal told the workers who are striking that what they are doing is important not only for them, but for other working Americans who face the same goals.
“Folks who shop in your store can go anywhere to buy meat or produce or any of that stuff,” Blumenthal said. “They are coming to this store because of the people who service the store, the service employees who are the face and voice of Stop & Shop. You are the face and voice of Stop & Shop. You are the ones who really earn them what they make. So if they want to do the right thing and they want to do the smart thing for their own company, they will respect you with their pay, healthcare and pension.”
Throughout the weekend, Blumenthal has been speaking with Stop & Shop employees and management across the state to ensure the union employees voices are heard.
Monday was Stop & Shop workers’ fifth day on the picket line, leaving the stores with no choice but to only offer primary services as well as pharmacy and banking.
On Thursday, workers at all Stop & Shop stores in New England walked off the job and were asking customers who tried to enter to the market to shop elsewhere with the hope that they would turn around and not cross the picket line in support of the union.
Stop & Shop managers were at stores to keep the markets open, but managers at some other area grocery stores and markets said there has been a slight increase in their business since the strike.
Guido Martini, store manager of Price Chopper in Bristol, said the store has seen an upturn in its business in the last few days.
“We have had an increase in business and a lot of new faces from the area who are Stop & Shop customers,” Martini said. “That’s really it, just an influx in business in the last few days and people are coming here. We have embraced it and we welcome the people in Bristol into the store. We actually like it and acknowledge it.”
“We have been busier but nothing substantial,” Enzo Formica, employee at The Bakery On The Ave in Berlin, said.
Other stores in the area told The Herald and The Press that they have either seen just a slight increase or no increase at all in terms of their customer base in the last few days.
“We have seen the same people, the same customers,” Cecilia Ferreira, store manager at America’s Food Basket in New Britain, said.
“It has been about the same I would say,” Jeffrey Diaz, manager at CTown Supermarket of New Britain, said. “I don’t know if the Stop & Shop customers would come into our store, but I’m hoping they will.”
Luciano Lastrina of Kensington Market, in Berlin, said he has seen the usual steady line in the last few days. “A little stronger,” he said but mostly the usual faces.
Stop & Shop stores across New England are facing the same issue after the union that represents their employees was unable to reach an agreement with the company on a new contract.
Employees, who have been without a contract since February, are seeking wage and benefit concessions.
Stop & Shop customers went to The Herald Facebook page to comment on the strike and whether they plan to cross the picket line to shop. Most of the comments were in support of the striking workers.
Colleen L Phaneuf wrote: “I’ll be shopping elsewhere. Not Crossing a Picket Line !”
“Just went to Aldi’s for the first time today because of the S&S strike,” commented Tim Grady in response to a story regarding the same issue. “What a Great Place! Cleaner, better stocked and cheaper than Stop & Shop! Thanks UFCW for showing me life is better without unions! I’m shopping at Aldi’s all the time now!”
“We don’t know what those employees endure at their workplace,” said A Karina Bridges on a comment. “I will respect the decision and shop elsewhere. I work in a union environment and as management, who is non union I will still support the employees on their decision.”
Karla Santos can be reached at 860-801-5079 or firstname.lastname@example.org.