Editorial — Stop & Shop: Two sides achieve an agreement

Published: 4/23/2019 6:07:12 AM

On Sunday, an 11-day strike ended when Stop & Shop and the United Food and Commercial Workers union reached a tentative agreement.

The strike involved 30,000 workers in 240 stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Of course, the Stop & Shop in Greenfield was one of them.

But the strike also impacted people who are loyal Stop & Shop shoppers, including its gas station. Keep in mind, for many cities (but not Greenfield) this supermarket is the only one available.

For picketing workers, it was likely a hardship protesting in front of stores instead of working their jobs inside. Union stewards in Greenfield have expressed their appreciation for the community’s support during the strike. Even the Greenfield City Council gave its unanimous backing to the union.

Local food banks, reluctant to cross the picket line, had to contend with a significant drop in donations from the supermarket chain.

And we are certain, the company must have lost a great deal of money when shoppers stayed away. It will have work to do to win them back.

For the strike to go on this long — a previous one lasted only 12 hours — shows that both sides were far apart on the issues.

For the UFCW, the issues were proposed changes such as significant raises to health care premiums, reduced holiday pay and Sunday pay for part-time workers, and decreased take-home pay.

On the other hand, Stop & Shop said its proposed contract would include pay increases for all employees and other benefits that are above average among its competitors.

On Sunday, the two sides were able to reach a satisfactory agreement that will need to be ratified by the local unions.

Without a doubt, the U.S. currently is experiencing a great political divide. Right and left. Conservative and liberal. Republican and Democrat. The list goes on.

Little gets accomplished when that happens.

But the end of the Stop & Shop strike shows what happens when two sides that are far apart are able to find common ground. There’s a lesson to be learned here.

Earth Day

Monday was Earth Day, which honors our planet and what people can do to support environmental protection.

Sen. Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin was inspired by a natural disaster — an oil slick covering 800 square miles of the Santa Barbara Channel in 1969 — to start Earth Day the following year. The first celebrations took place in college and high school campuses, plus communities nationwide. Teach-ins and peaceful protests were held that year.

Now Earth Day is recognized globally.

Since 1970, some strides have been made. Vehicles run cleaner and recycling is more prevalent, among other improvements. More people are involved in environmental causes.

But with the threat of global warming, so much more needs to be done. First having our national leaders acknowledge this threat is indeed a reality would be an important step. The next would be to take action.

So, what can we do as ordinary citizens? Our best advice is to use less and re-use more.

Respect Mother Earth.

Greenfield Recorder

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