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Unionized employees at Acme Markets in Philadelphia and New Jersey, and Shoppers Food & Drug in Maryland and Virginia are throwing their support behind the 300 workers at the Shaw’s warehouse in Methuen, Mass., who have been on strike since early March. Members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 1776 and 400 are wearing stickers to work that call on the parent company of all three chains, Minneapolis-based Supervalu, to resume talks with the striking workers.
According to UFCW, Shaw’s has ended the striking workers’ health benefits, hired permanent striker replacements and insisted that any future negotiations begin with a proposed contract that the union calls “significantly worse than the package that initiated the strike.”
“Our Shaw’s brothers and sisters are holding the line against company demands to contract out work and make health care unaffordable for workers and their families,” said Wendell Young, IV, President of UFCW Local 1776, which has 24,000 members in southeast, northeast and central Pennsylvania, northeast Maryland and southern New York. “UFCW Local 1776 members will make sure Acme customers are aware of the company’s refusal to bargain and get workers back in the warehouse.”
“Supervalu is getting the message that we are one union, speaking with one voice,” added Tom McNutt, President of UFCW Local 400, which represents 37,000 members working in Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, West Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky. “Our members work for a different subsidiary than the Shaw’s workers, but they are willing to take a stand to support their struggle. It’s time for Supervalu to get Shaw’s back to the table and negotiate a fair settlement.”
“We think it’s unfortunate that the union continues to perpetuate this unnecessary strike that is occurring in New England,” Supervalu spokeswoman Rebekah L. Fawcett told Progressive Grocer. “The union has voted down or otherwise dismissed two contract offers that were not only fair and reasonable, but also realistic in the current business environment. Shaw’s had proposed to increase already generous wages, provide access to comprehensive and affordable health care, and maintain exceptional retirement benefits. We continue to work with a federal mediator.”
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has also called for a resumption of negotiations.