Stop & Shop releases 'final offer' for unions to the public
- Stop & Shop has publicly released the details of its proposed contract for union members, The Hour first reported. Negotiations resumed today in Providence, Rhode Island between Stop & Shop and United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445 and 1459.
- A key piece of Stop & Shop’s final offer is a one-time buyout of up to $75,000 for union members who voluntarily retire and have worked full-time for the grocery store for at least 25 years. Buyouts will only be offered if an agreement is reached by April 10. Stop & Shop is also offering pay increases for all associates, increased company contributions to the UFCW’s national defined benefit pension fund and continued "gold level" health care benefits.
- A spokesperson for Stop & Shop told Grocery Dive the company believes these are fair offers. A spokeswoman for the UFCW said in an email that it sees the buyouts as "nothing more than a bribe of our most loyal, senior members."
According to Stop & Shop’s latest statement, the company has chosen to release its proposal publicly because of inaccurate statements that have been made about its position in negotiations.
"We believe it is important for our customers and our associates to have access to the complete facts on Stop & Shop’s offer," a statement on the retailer's website said.
Amy Ritter, a spokesperson for the UFCW, told Grocery Dive in an email that the unions view Stop & Shop’s offer as inadequate.
"We see this proposed buyout as nothing more than a bribe of our most loyal, senior members in an attempt to convince them to go against their own best interest and the interest of all 31,000 Stop & Shop members. This deal is available to only 1.29% of the entire Stop & Shop workforce in New England. The company needs to do right by all of its workers and settle on a contract that recognizes their hard work and dedication to providing excellent customer service," Ritter said.
She added that the rest of Stop & Shop’s final offer fails to recognize the hard work Stop & Shop employees who have contributed to making the company successful and competitive.
Stop & Shop employees have been working on expired contracts since February 24, and tense negotiations between the grocery company and unions representing 31,000 employees throughout New England have ensued.
United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1445 union was the first to vote to authorize a strike immediately following the expired contract, citing proposed increases in health care costs, elimination of time-and-a-half pay and changes to pensions. Since then, four other local unions representing Stop & Shop employees have authorized strikes if their demands are not met.
Stop & Shop has continued to revise its contract proposal throughout negotiations, with updates released March 28 and again yesterday.
It is unclear what this week’s negotiations will bring, but if a settlement isn’t reached, union workers may follow through on strikes. Stop & Shop has said that it plans to keep its stores open with temporary workers and corporate support and will minimize disruption, according to the Boston Globe.
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