More than 30 years after a strike in 1988, “and it lasted less than a day,” said Stop & Shop External Communications Manager Stefanie Shuman, work contract negotiations continued Wednesday, April 17, after nearly one week with union workers on strike at Stop & Shop grocery stores throughout New England and locally in Newtown.

Updates posted regularly at stopandshop.com include one from April 16: “The UFCW locals and Stop & Shop continued negotiations today. Our goal remains the same – reaching a fair new agreement and returning our focus to doing what we do best — taking care of our customers…”

Ms Shuman responded to Newtown Bee inquiries Wednesday morning, April 17, saying that “Bargaining continues today, and we’ve also published a new fact sheet that outlines the key aspects of our proposals on pension.”

Regarding the grocery delivery service, Peapod, she said, “Peapod is experiencing some service disruptions due to a result of current negotiations between UFCW unions and Stop & Shop. Delivery and pick-up times may be limited. Peapod hopes to be back to full service availability as quickly as possible.”

The company has taken measures to staff its stores.

On Monday, April 15, UFCW Local 919 and UFCW Local 371 AFL-CIO union members and Stop & Shop employees started their week with hopes that they would see resolutions by the weekend.

Picketers Monday mentioned “sticking points,” with the contracts include health benefits; what the new hires are, or are not, being offered; and Sunday pay is still an issue, store worker Michael Theise said.

A People’s United Bank within the store and the pharmacy are among reasons residents continue to shop at the 228 South Main Street location.

Terms of Pension

Ms Shuman provided the following facts about Stop & Shop’s pension proposal:

*Keeping the defined benefit pension for all associates, 100 percent funded by the company;

*Just four percent of privately employed Americans have only a defined benefit pension for retirement. (Source CNN Money’s “Ultimate Guide to Retirement”);

*No cuts to pension benefits associates already have earned;

*20 percent increase in the company’s contributions to the pension fund to keep benefits growing under the funds’ rules at the same rate for current full- and vested part-time associates;

*Increased pension fund contributions are at no cost to associates;

*Nearly all other companies, if anything, only provide access to a 401(k) plan funded by employees, possibly with an employer match; and

*Associate pension benefits are managed by the UFCW pension funds, whose trustees include representatives of the union and employers in the plan.

Source: Newtown Bee