Police called about strikers at Stop & Shop entrance, situation settled amicably

  • A customer leaves Stop & Shop in Greenfield. A store manager called the police on striking workers Saturday morning to be sure the entrance wasn’t being blocked. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • Saturday was the first time that police got involved with the striking Stop & Shop workers. The situation was resolved smoothly. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • Singer Ben Grosscup performs outside Stop & Shop on Saturday morning, mostly popular rock songs with the words adapted to fit the strikers’ situation. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • Union workers have been protesting outside Stop & Shop in Greenfield since Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 4/13/2019 8:40:11 PM

GREENFIELD — A disagreement between striking Stop and Shop workers and a store manager late Saturday morning led to the Greenfield Police’s first involvement in the strike since it began Thursday afternoon.

Police were called around 11 a.m. when a manager told picketing workers not to block the store’s entrance. Union organizers and the officers were able to resolve the situation quickly and amicably. By the time the police left, strikers were thanking them for their support.

About 40 people were outside Stop and Shop on Saturday morning, a union organizer estimated. Not everyone was a striking employee: the crowd included friends, supportive locals and retirees concerned about their pensions.

Around 11 a.m., the crowd converged around the store entrance, where singer Ben Grosscup had set up sound equipment to play protest songs, mostly rock standards with the words adapted to reflect the situation.

When the manager told the crowd to stay away from the store entrance, union organizer Matt Szulborski, vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union 1459 of Springfield, told her to leave the strikers alone, and encouraged her to call the police.

Two officers showed up. Union organizers took them aside.

Meanwhile, the concert was still going on. “One more time, for the cops!” Grosscup cried, leading the crowd through a version of “I Won’t Back Down.”

Before the police left, they measured a 20-foot-wide walkway from the parking lot to the door of the store, and advised union organizers of the rules.

“Don’t follow anyone in or out,” Szulborski relayed to the crowd.

Since the strike began Thursday, traffic in and out of the store has decreased notably, said Ernie Orcutt, who works in the meat department. On Saturday the parking lot was the emptiest he had seen it yet, and most of the cars in it belonged to people protesting on behalf of the union workers, he said.

Police had driven through several times since the strike began, but Saturday was the first that they had engaged with the protesters, Orcutt said.

“Cops have been supportive so far,” Union Vice President Szulborski said.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ex 261.


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