Stop & Shop strike: supermarket employees are striking over the Northeast

More than 30,000 North American merchants refuse to return to work for the second day in a row.

Cashiers and Delicacies at Stop & Shop Supermarkets went to work Thursday afternoon at 240 stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, saying that the supermarket chain is trying to cut their wages by migrating health insurance premiums and lowering pension benefits for new employees.

The workers have negotiated new employment contracts with the company since January, according to their unions, which is part of United Food & Commercial Workers Union International. Workers want their paycheck to be bigger, no less, they say, especially now that Stop & Shop's profits are growing faster than before.

"They are a billion dollar company because of us," said one associate, who was picketing with colleagues outside a Stop & Shop in Middletown, Connecticut, in a video published on Facebook by the local union. "We are out here trying to show what is fair and what is right."

The company offered increased wage growth, but unions say the jump in health premiums and deductions for employees would end up costing them more than they would from any paycheck. The Stop & Shop management disagrees and says their latest suggestion will not increase the deductible and that all employees will end up with a bigger paycheck.

Stop & Shop is the only major supermarket chain in the northeastern United States with a largely union. It is owned by Belgian company Ahold Delhaize, which also runs the Giant and Food Lion brands.

The company said in a statement that it was disappointed that workers chose to stop to "interfere with the service in our stores." They claim that their offerings, which include bonuses and some wage assignments, are reasonable and that the association's proposals would increase wage costs for the chain.

"This would make our company less competitive in the mostly non-union New England grocery market, the company wrote on Thursday in an updated summary of contract negotiations.

The company said it was prepared to keep the stores open, but some have closed because they do not have enough workers .In a show of support for striking employees, many customers have refused to cross the picket lines .

Within 24 hours, the Stop & Shop stop has become the biggest private sector strike in at least three years, showing that last year's job was it was not an isolated phenomenon.

Teachers Launched a National Labor Movement

A record number of US workers quit or stopped working in 2018 due to employers' labor disputes, according to data released in February by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In total, 485,000 employees were involved in large work stoppages last year – the highest number since 1986, when flight fees, garbage collectors and steel workers went off the job.

The increasing number of workers involved in Work Attacks suggests that average Americans do not experience "economic miracle" "described by President Donald Trump. They see the economy expanding and deserve to grow, but this does not extend to their paycheck .

Frustrated teachers in West Virginia launched this year's first major strike in January 2018. About 35,000 teachers and employees left the job to protest against an insufficient 1 percent wage increase. The stop ended by shutting down every public school in the state for a week until government legislators agreed to give them a 5 percent increase and temporarily freeze health insurance premiums.

Teachers in six other states soon followed, and by the end of the year Marriott workers were picketing in four states.

The working class Americans have not been so tired of their employers since the 1980s, as this chart shows:

US Department of Labor

To be clear, not all 485,000 workers were involved in the stops in 2018 on strike. That figure includes people who couldn't work because employers temporarily turn off operations during walkouts. It also includes lockouts, where an employer refuses to let workers do their jobs when involved in a contract conflict.

But almost all of the 20 major work stoppages in 2018 involved massive work attacks, which ended up raising wages for thousands of workers.

The trend does not go down

The Stop & Shop strike is the last sign that widespread labor fear does not fall. The relationship with the supermarket is almost as great as the strike that hits all West Virginia schools last year (25,000 teachers took part in that strike, compared to 31,000 grocery stores now).

Earlier this year, in January Los Angeles primary school teachers completed a strike that knocks down the nation's second largest school district for more than a week.

As part of their deal with city officials, teachers agreed on an increase of 6 percent and slightly fewer students in each classroom, according to Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, a union representing about 34 000 primary school teachers, nurses, librarians and support staff in the city.

And more than 2,000 teachers in Denver went on strike in February for the first time in 25 years. Educators want the school district to revise the compensation system, which depends on bonuses that vary wildly from year to year.

It is unclear when Stop & Shop employees will return to work, but they do not seem so worried. State lawmakers, members of Congress and 2020 democratic presidential candidates, such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have all promised their support to the striking workers.

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