2020 Presidential Contenders Wade Into Stop & Shop Battle

Two top 2020 Democratic presidential contenders have decided to get involved in the ongoing Stop & Shop employee strike.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined the striking workers on the picket line at the Stop & Shop on McGrath Highway in Somerville on Friday morning.

She told them she would fight for the "dignity of the working people."

"Those at the top think that they can just keep sucking out every bit of profit and leave nothing for the working people," she said, also shaking hands and taking selfies with sign-carrying workers asking customers not to cross the picket line.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker also issued a statement Thursday saying that he stands with the striking Stop & Shop workers and thinks they deserve a raise and better retirement and health care benefits.

"I urge Stop & Shop management to immediately work with labor and come to terms on a fair contract," he said in the statement. "As President, I will put working families first and expand workers’ rights across this country so that everyone has a livable wage, a secure retirement and access to health care as a fundamental right."\

Thousands of workers at 240 Stop & Shop locations in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island went on strike Thursday over what they say is an unfair contract offer. Their last contract expired in February.

Management at Quincy, Massachusetts-based Stop & Shop says the contract proposal is "reasonable" and includes across-the-board raises and health and pension benefits better than most food retailers. Stop & Shop is a subsidiary of Dutch supermarket giant Ahold Delhaize, with 415 stores across the Northeast. Workers at company stores in New York and New Jersey are not on strike.

"We are committed to good faith bargaining and hope to reach new contracts as quickly as possible that both recognize and reward the great work of our associates and enable Stop & Shop to compete effectively in the rapidly changing New England grocery market," spokeswoman Jennifer Brogan said in an emailed statement Friday.

The United Food & Commercial Workers union responded that the proposal would significantly increase health care costs and decrease take home pay, while ultimately hurting customers.

"While Stop & Shop continues to propose drastically cutting worker benefits, Ahold shareholders voted on April 10 to give themselves an 11.1 percent raise in dividends over the last year," the union said in an emailed statement.

Most Stop & Shop locations remained open under modified hours and staffed by temporary workers, the company said. All in-store pharmacies and banks remained open, even if the main store stayed closed.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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