Stop & Shop, Union Workers Avoid Strike With Cooling Off Period

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By Janine Bowen

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 has agreed to a federal mediator’s request for a cooling off period to avoid a work stoppage at New York area Stop & Shop supermarkets before Thanksgiving.

The agreement comes less than 24 hours after hundreds of Stop & Shop employees met with union leadership on Long Island and at the Mount Kisco Holiday Inn to begin preparing for either a union sanctioned strike or a lockout of the employees by the supermarket chain’s management. At the Sunday night meeting, union membership decided against going out on strike just days before the holiday.

“The union is taking the responsible step of agreeing to the federal mediator’s request for a temporary cooling off period between the two parties,” said Anthony Spellman, secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 1500 and lead negotiator for the union’s Stop & Shop negotiating committee.

“It is our hope that this temporary truce between the union and Stop & Shop will ultimately lead to an acceptable conclusion for the members of Local 1500. All they want is what they have earned: a fair and decent contract,” he added.

Stop & Shop management and employees have been negotiating a new contract since August and have been working without a pact since Nov. 3 after the two sides failed to reach an agreement.

“Our goal is to get a contract and the last thing we want to do is disrupt the shopping of local customers,” said Patrick Purcell, director of political and legislative affairs at the Long Island-based union, which represents about 6,000 workers in the New York metropolitan area.

About a dozen stores in Westchester and Putnam counties would be affected. There are more than 50 Stop & Shop supermarkets in the New York region.

A representative for Stop & Shop, which has headquarters in Purchase and Quincy, Mass., was unable to be reached for comment. However, the company issued a statement on its website.

“This year’s negotiations on a new contract are particularly complex because of issues related to the UFCW Health and Welfare Fund and the new Affordable Care Act,” the company statement read in part.

“Stop & Shop is continuing to work in good faith with Local 1500 to reach a fair and reasonable new contract that reflects the economic needs of our associates, their families and the competitive realities facing the company. Stop & Shop has always been able to reach fair and reasonable contracts with Local 1500 and other UFCW locals—and we intend to continue that tradition.”

 

 

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