EAST HARWICH —After months of stalled talks, union workers at Stop & Shop supermarkets, including the ones in East Harwich and Orleans, walked off the job Thursday afternoon.
The employees, represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, stood by the roadside and at store entrances and held picket signs. Union negotiators say the company’s latest proposal requires that full- and part-time employees to pay much higher health insurance premiums, while cutting pension benefits for new employees. Many part-time employees would receive an average general wage increase of less than 2 percent, according to a letter published by the union.
Stop & Shop, owned by parent company Ahold Delhaize, argues that it is the only large food retail chain in New England with a fully unionized workforce, and must compete with much larger, non-union stores operated by companies like Walmart, Whole Foods/Amazon and Costco. An informational sheet published online argues that full-time Stop & Shop union workers in New England are among the highest paid in the industry, and indicates that all employees would see an increase in take-home pay under the proposed contract.
The East Harwich store appeared to be closed Friday with the exception of the pharmacy, and telephone calls to the store went unanswered.