Here’s what 2020 presidential candidates are saying about the Stop & Shop strike

"When you fight, you fight for families across America."

SOMERVILLE, MA - APRIL 12:  Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) shakes hands and greets striking Stop & Shop workers while also bringing coffee and donuts on April 12, 2019 in Somerville, Massachusetts.  On Thursday, 31,000 unionized Stop & Shop workers across New England walked off the job in an ongoing strike in response to a proposed contract which the United Food & Commercial Workers union says would cut health care benefits and pensions for employees. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren shakes hands and greets striking Stop &Shop workers while also bringing coffee and donuts Friday morning in Somerville. –Scott Eisen / Getty Images

There may not be any Stop & Shop locations in Iowa or New Hampshire, but a number of the Democrats running for president in 2020 are rallying behind the thousands of New England workers who went on strike this week.

Elizabeth Warren was foremost among them.

The Massachusetts senator first announced her support of the strike less than two hours after the Quincy-based chain’s 31,000 workers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island walked off the job at 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The strike came after Stop & Shop and its workers’ union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, failed to agree to a new contract after months of negotiations over wages, health care, and retirement benefits.

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“I stand in solidarity with @UFCW for these hard-working families to be treated with the dignity & respect they deserve,” Warren tweeted.

On Friday morning, Warren stood with them literally — joining the picket line outside a Stop & Shop store in East Somerville, a short distance from her new campaign headquarters in Charlestown. The Bay State senator even brought striking workers coffee and doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts (which was not the first time she has repped the Canton-based chain).

“When you fight, you fight for families across America,” Warren told protesters through a megaphone, adding that unions “built America’s middle class” and “will rebuild America’s middle class.”

Warren urged workers to “stay in the fight until you win.”

While the local senator visited workers Friday, other Democratic presidential candidates were with them in spirit.

California Sen. Kamala Harris, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro all said the workers deserved better wages and benefits.

As the only large grocery chain in New England with a fully-unionized store workforce, Stop & Shop officials argue that the company is negotiating in good faith and already provides above-average wages and benefits, compared to the rest of the food retail industry. In a new statement Friday, the chain said their contract proposal includes pay increases for all associates, along with “Gold Level” health care coverage and a defined benefits pension.

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However, union leaders say that proposed wages do not keep pace with cost-of-living increases and that Stop & Shop’s latest proposal would mean higher health care premiums and, for new workers, reduced pension benefits. Noting that the chain’s Dutch parent company, Ahold Delhaize, recorded $2 billion in profits last year, UFCW leaders say their requests for more are “completely reasonable.”