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Ahold Delhaize-owned Stop & Shop and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract for some 31,000 union members who walked off the job 10 days ago, severely hurting the retailer’s ability to compete during the run-up to the Easter and Passover holidays.

The strike affected about 240 stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, with some estimates suggesting that the retailer’s business in the affected areas was off as much as 75 percent. It also generated a lot of sympathy - and resultant media coverage - among candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, with the likes of former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, voicing support for organized labor.

In addition, the Boston Globe notes, “A number of rabbis in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island advised their congregations not to cross picket lines to buy Jewish holiday essentials.”

The sticking points between the two sides, not surprisingly, were said to be wages and benefits, with health care and pensions said to be at the core of the union’s bargaining position.

In its statement announcing the tentative agreement, the UFCW said that it “preserves health care and retirement benefits, provides wage increases, and maintains time-and-a-half pay on Sunday for current members.”

No additional specifics were provided about the contract, which is subject to ratification by union members. Workers are expected to go back to work as early as today.
KC's View:
Tough time for Stop & Shop to be essentially sidelined … it seemed to me that in my town during the past week, the competition was a little busier than it might ordinarily would have been. The question is whether the competition did enough during that time to change shopping habits for any sustained period of time … I wouldn’t think so, if only because I don’t think they made their case as strongly as they could have.

My feeling is that when the competition has a weakness, you go after it relentlessly. If you miss the moment, you may never get it back.