Michael Vieira of Warwick was one of the lucky Stop & Shop shoppers. He wasn’t inconvenienced by the strike of five locals of the United Food Commercial Workers that put many of the company’s 31,000 workers in three states on the picket lines starting April 11.
Vieira was on a cruise with his wife returning Sunday.
“I was sitting in the airport last night and my wife said, ‘It’s over,’” Vieira said Monday as he wheeled his cart out of the Meadowbrook Store. Vieira would be making stops at other food markets to pick up bread and lunch meats, but he had some non-perishables as well as an Easter lily.
“I’m a day late,” he said looking at the lily.
Indeed, there were lilies in the store. A crew of two worked the flower shop, watering plants and placing out displays from cardboard boxes that they were breaking down to recycle.
“We’re happy to be back,” they said.
They lacked specifics on the settlement announced Sunday night by the union on its Facebook page and by the company in a brief press release to the news media. The agreement needs union membership ratification, and as of Monday, no word was available regarding when or where that might happen.
The impact of the strike was apparent throughout the Meadowbrook store. The bakery was bare. Produce stands were largely empty and personnel were stocking dairy products. And although there were only a handful of shoppers, the pace was lively as workers readied for customers.
As during the strike, store management refused to comment and referred questions to corporate offices.
The Stop & Shop release said that the tentative three-year agreement includes “increased pay for all associates; continued excellent health coverage for eligible associates; and ongoing defined benefit pension benefits for all eligible associates.”
“We deeply appreciate the patience and understanding of our customers during this time, and we look forward to welcoming them back to Stop & Shop,” it reads.
The union’s Facebook post informed workers they would receive a call from their store and for them to be prepared to return to work Monday.
It said that those who manned the picket lines would receive strike fund benefits.
“We strongly encourage you to attend your Local’s contract ratification meeting for a complete and detailed report of what is in the contract. We will send you immediate notices of when and where your Local’s meeting will be. In the meantime, be proud of what you have accomplished on the line, thank your friends, neighbors and customers who signed petitions, brought food, and shared your message with the world. And most importantly, thank your union family who stood through bad weather and tough times, to hold the line with you. The message you sent by collectively standing up for yourselves, your families, and for good jobs, has resonated not only with the company, but all of America. Thank you for everything that you’ve done,” the post reads.