Letter: Supporting the Stop & Shop picket line

Regarding The News Times coverage of the Stop & Shop strike — “Two Republican Sightings on Picket Lines” — treats the matter akin to sighting rare birds. It’s appropriate, then, that the Mayor of Danbury tweets his presence. As members of the party that is tone-deaf to the needs of working people, it’s a tiny glint of sunshine, albeit on a job action that has been widely supported by our community.

Not so rare has been support from Democratic elected officials at the federal, state and local levels. If you talk to strikers, they can tell you of visits and support from Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy and others. Local Democratic Connecticut state senators and representatives have also expressed support in words and action.

Our own Sen. Julie Kushner is among the strongest supporters, having visited each of the Danbury stores every day since the action was called. Her presence was decidedly more natural, as she serves her first term in Hartford following over four decades in the labor movement. Coming off her eight-year term as Regional Director of the United Auto Workers, she is well attuned to the unmet needs of working people. Hearst columnist Dan Haar’s front page article notes that many Stop & Shop workers have to work second shifts elsewhere to make ends meet.

Lesser known than Julie’s union background is her family history: Her father was a grocer, as were her grandfathers by both parents and her uncles and granduncles. In the present: Her whole family has stepped up to support, including her children and husband. Her visiting 90-year-old mother stood with picketers on Mill Plain Road and her son set up a grill to feed picketers in Vernon.

The issues at stake here are simple: reasonable pay and affordable health care. Both of these are being attacked by Stop & Shop’s parent company — which recently benefited from the most unconscionable corporate tax break in history.

The human side of this is probably not the main concern of the owners, but it’s thoughtfully expressed by Mary-Elizabeth Sabo’s letter recently in the newspaper about her striking dad.

The real test of a strike is as it gets dragged out. These are everyday working people taking on an enormous international conglomerate. The community has been fantastic about honoring the picket line and shopping elsewhere. We need to continue this support until a just conclusion is reached.

Cyndie McGuire