A federal mediator will enter into the fray of contract negotiations this week between Stop & Shop grocery stores and the five United Food and Commercial Workers locals, which cried foul Friday with the company’s final offer.
“Stop & Shop’s proposal will have a terrible effect on 31,000 hard-working employees and impact the service they are able to provide in the stores,” the five local presidents said in a statement from Providence.
Shop & Shop confirmed Sunday it has made a final offer to the union. But negotiations will continue this week in the presence of the mediator, company spokeswoman Jennifer Brogan said Sunday.
The union has asked the federal mediator to step in, according to a post on the Local 328 website. The union has been in negotiations with Stop & Shop, which has more than 400 stores in the Northeast, since Jan. 14. The three-year contract expired Feb. 23.
Last week, the company placed what it said were “new, substantially enhanced offers on the table,” according to an update posted Thursday on the company’s website. The company is offering across-the-board pay increases, health care benefits with workers shouldering the cost at rates far below what employees at most other companies pay, and increased company contributions to the union’s pension fund for full- and part-time workers, according to the company post.
But union leaders said that among the significant cuts that Stop & Shop has proposed are replacing wage increases with bonuses, significantly cutting health and welfare benefits and significantly increasing workers’ weekly health-care contributions.
The union emphasized last week that the company continues to state its plan to reduce the number of cashiers in stores and rely instead on more self-service checkout machines. The use of self-service checkout machines force customers to do more work with less help, according to the union. At the same time, the company says it must increasingly compete with non-union grocers such as Market Basket and Amazon/Whole Foods, and that it intends to make $2 billion in store upgrades to better serve customers and communities while lowering prices and expanding opportunities for employees.
Source: Providence Journal