How would you feel if your employer decided one day to dramatically increase your healthcare costs? How would you feel if the company did this even while it was making hundreds of millions of dollars in profits?
That’s the situation for 15,000 unionized Stop & Shop employees across Connecticut. Their contract has expired, and Stop & Shop is playing hardball, citing the recession as a reason to cut health and pension benefits. But the company – part of a multinational conglomerate – is actually doing quite well these days.
Stop & Shop workers are lucky to be part of a union that’s been able to negotiate decent benefits. No one wants to go out on strike – but if Stop & Shop won’t negotiate fairly, it’s the only tool workers have to protect their standards and hold off a race to the bottom.
Even with the ailing economy, the company’s profits are healthy. In the third quarter of 2009 (the most recent figures available), the company posted 238 million pounds (around $371 million).
That must be why they can afford to hire “replacement workers” (aka, strike-breakers). And get this – the pay they are advertising to recruit strike-breakers is $3 per hour higher than what they pay their actual employees! They’re doing so well they’re expanding and buying new stores. That’s outrageous!
As for me, I’m standing with the workers. If they have to strike to protect their benefits I’m not crossing a picket line. I do all my shopping at Stop & Shop, by the way.