Fairfield reps express support for striking workers
FAIRFIELD — Stop & Shop workers have reached their first full week on strike in a New England-wide protest as negotiations continue between unions and the shop’s parent company, Alhold Delhaize.
Scott Burns, a strike captain at the Fairfield Stop & Shop at Kings Highway Cut-off and an employee of over 30 years, said he and his team were “keeping it together” on Thursday morning.
“We’re not doing bad,” Burns said. “There are no customers coming in, so that’s good.”
With the strike making national headlines, politicians have been visiting the strikes to meet and talk with workers, including some members from Fairfield’s state delegation.
Democratic state Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey was at both Fairfield Stop & Shop locales this week, along with same-party U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal.
“I’ve stood with the workers and will continue to stand with them for a fair contract,” Vahey said. “I’m hoping the negotiations can move to a swift resolution. With a fair deal for these employees, I will continue to support them.”
Stop & Shop workers are striking over contract negotiations that include hour cutbacks, elimination of Sunday premium pay, increased automation, and decreased health and pension benefits.
Stop & Shop President Mark McGowan said on April 17 that he looked forward to “negotiations continuing between the unions and Stop & Shop tomorrow (April 18).”
Republican state Rep. Brenda Kupchick, in a Facebook post April 16, said she talked with Burns and fellow strike captain Sam Farina.
“Sam is a manager who really loves the work he does,” Kupchick said. “I think the message of empty parking lots at both Stop & Shops in town says something about how the people of our community feel.”
State Sen. Tony Hwang, R-28, expressed his support for the workers on strike and pointed out this is a private-sector issue.
“I think the workers deserve our support for the simple reason that these are hard-working people trying to make ends meet for themselves,” Hwang said.
The state senator pointed out Alhold has reaped over $2 billion in profits and massive million-dollar tax breaks in the last two years.
“I know it’s important that business be done, but we should not shortchange the workers that contribute to this success,” Hwang said.
State Rep. Laura Devlin, a Republican, called the situation regrettable, but said she hasn’t visited workers at the Fairfield Stop & Shop establishments since the strike began.
“I certainly feel for the workers, many of whom live in the community,” Devlin said. “I do hope that they resolve it soon, because I can’t imagine it’s not a hardship for the people who work (at Stop & Shop).”
Regarding company and union negotiations, Burns said besides an exchange of proposals both parties are “still talking” and that workers will strike for as long they can.
“It was nice, (some of the Fairfield state representatives) were with us and everything and told us to give them a call if we need anything,” Burns said.