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After a four-month strike, hundreds of Shaw’s Supermarkets warehouse workers have reached a deal with the grocery chain over pay and health benefits.
Workers at Shaw’s Methuen, Mass., distribution center have ratified a contract after rejecting an offer in March that the union said would have resulted in a loss of $28 per week, or about $1,456 annually, for people enrolled in family health insurance plans, the Boston Globe reported.
The grocer and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 791 issued this joint statement: “The four-year contract continues Shaw’s long-standing history of providing good wages, comprehensive and affordable health care, and a generous retirement plan. It also allows the company to operate more efficiently and address changing business conditions in a very competitive marketplace.”
Shaw’s spokeswoman Rebekah Fawcett said she couldn’t release the new figures. The grocer had said the rejected offer would have increased company health contributions by up to 19 percent and raised wages by 4.2 percent for all Methuen workers, who make an average of $19.06 an hour.
“The economics of the offer were comparable to the offer we had on the table at the beginning of the strike, and we believe this is a fair deal because it balanced our business needs with those of our associates and our customers,’’ Fawcett told the Globe. “We agreed with the union that this was the right path forward.’’
More than 300 Methuen workers began picketing Shaw’s stores in March. Shortly afterward, the grocer, owned by Minneapolis-based Supervalu, Inc. and operating 176 stores in New England, cut off health benefits and hired replacements in the warehouse. Other unions eventually offered their support, and the UFCW International Union called for a national boycott of Supervalu. Meanwhile, state and federal lawmakers urged Shaw’s to restart negotiations.