November 27, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Stop & Shop employees at 45 supermarkets located around the city and state will not strike over the Thanksgiving Day holiday now that a seven-day “cooling off” agreement between UFCW Local 1500 and management has been signed. But the threat of a work stoppage happening before the year is out remains especially high – and the implementation of Obamacare is largely the cause.
“This is the worse negotiation we’ve had in 40 years,” said Pat Purcell, UFCW Local 1500 director of Political & Legislative Affairs.
According to Purcell, Stop & Shop management is using the implementation of the still controversial Affordable Healthcare Act to “gut” the rest of the workers’ contract.
“They’re just trying to take advantage,” Purcell said. “The costs are manageable. We’ve managed for four decades with whatever changes that came.”
More than 6,000 Stop & Shop workers have been working without a proper contract since September 30. The union has signed two subsequent extensions carrying workers through October, but the standoff has already become unprecedented.
“We’ve never been in a position where we’re still negotiating 60 days after the original contract expired,” Purcell said.
Management had reportedly sought still another contract extension through January 30, which the union called “disingenuous” and rejected outright.
That has set the stage for a possible strike to commence while turkey leftovers are still cooling in the fridge. UFCW Local 1500 leaders say that their members are ready for it. The rank and file authorized a strike on October 28.
“They know it’s not going to be a one-day strike,” Purcell said.
Local 1500 is also preparing for the possibility that Stop & Shop management might decide to lock out its employees ahead of a looming strike.
“[Workers] are not going to sit here and watch everything they worked for go away,” Purcell added. “If management continues to push it, there will be a strike before the end of the year.”
If, in fact, a post-Thanksgiving Day contract agreement is not reached, the Local says it will work with the International in conducting a strike in the most professional manner possible – talking with the police, assigning picket captains and coordinating manpower through a well-honed command structure some liken to a “Christmas Tree.”