CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Stop & Shop employees in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut returned to work Monday after the company and union leaders reached a tentative agreement, bringing an 11-day strike to a close.
Approximately 31,000 members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445, and 1459 walked off the job on April 11 following months of failed contract negotiations with the company.
The tentative agreement reached Sunday night includes wage increases and preserves health care and retirement benefits, as well as time-and-a-half pay on Sunday for current employees, according to both sides.
Union membership now has to ratify the terms of the deal.
Stop & Shop employee Jayne Lawrence told Eyewitness News the strike was brutal and dragged on longer than anticipated.
“I am excited I am back at work,” she said. “Eleven days was a long time.”
Customers no longer have to cross a picket line to shop at the supermarkets but they’ll likely find some empty shelves as employees work to restock merchandise. Workers tell Eyewitness News that process could take a couple of days.
“The deli was closed, the meat department was closed, the produce department was closed, the bake shop was closed, so none of those were able to stay afloat, even if they had a temporary crew in there,” Lawrence explained. “We weren’t getting any deliveries. No one was crossing.”
“There’s nobody in there. The shelves are pretty bare,” customer Debbie Braley said Monday. “I just came to pick up a half and half and I got my gas so I am just so happy that they’re open again.”
Stop & Shop is a division of Ahold Delhaize, a Dutch retail conglomerate.