Stop & Shop Strike: Customers Find Mixed Bag Of Closings, Semi-Opened Stores | Connecticut Public Radio

Stop & Shop Strike: Customers Find Mixed Bag Of Closings, Semi-Opened Stores

Apr 13, 2019

Grocery chain Stop & Shop said on Friday, April 12 that a majority of its Connecticut stores are still open even though union workers have gone on strike.

The store on New Park Avenue in Hartford was open Friday, but only a few replacement workers were inside. The only way to pay for groceries was through self-checkout.

Danielle Clauss arrived with her eight-month old daughter alongside her in a stroller. Clauss also came with bags of cans and bottles she and her husband had collected from the streets. She said she does this every day to put food on the table.

“We see nothing. Everything is empty, it’s locked, and it says 'bottle room closed,'” Clauss said. “Everybody who comes here on a daily basis has to go somewhere else.”

She’ll go instead to a ShopRite nearby.

“Now that it’s closed, we have to walk extra to go return the bottles,” Clauss said.

She benefited in one way from the store being closed: a man saw the store was closed and instead of taking his six bags of bottles elsewhere, he donated them to Clauss and her family. She called that “pure luck.”

While some Stop & Shop grocery stores remain open in Connecticut during the work stoppage, some shoppers are arriving at locations across the state only to find that the store is closed.

Kelly Gwillim walked up to the front entrance of a store on Farmington Avenue in West Hartford Friday and was greeted by workers holding signs. That’s when she was told she couldn’t do her shopping.

“I know other stores closed yesterday,” Gwillim said. “I thought some employees would still be there. I was kind of shocked to see it’s actually closed.”

She’d have to go elsewhere to find coffee and creamer that she normally picks up during her work break.

“It is an inconvenience because now it sends me running to another store real quick and I’m on my lunch time,” Gwillim said.

One man wanted to show his support for the Stop & Shop employees, so he picketed alongside them. Win Heimer used to belong to the American Federation of Teachers union. He stood in solidarity with members of the United Food and Commercial Worker’s union.

“These people are out here struggling,” said Heimer.

Heimer is a retired state employee.

“They’re good neighbors. They’re good community people. They are loyal employees,” Heimer said. “They deserve to have the kind of support that I’m trying to give.”

A union representative said that across Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, 31,000 UFCW members are on strike. He said the plan is to keep customers from spending their money at Stop & Shop – strikers are letting them know about other grocery stores in the area.

“You could see how sparse the shopping is and that’s going on at all the locations,” said Ed Pryjmaczuk, a business representative for UFCW local 919. “Stop & Shop is trying to get replacement workers and slipping them into some of the stores, which is really rotten of them, but what are you going to do?”

The most recent collective bargaining agreement between the two sides expired in February. Talks for a new agreement recently stalled after union workers and Stop & Shop were left far apart on wages and benefits. The company has said it remains willing to return to the negotiating table.