Stop & Shop workers in New England could authorize strike on Sunday

The grocery chain is negotiating a new labor contract with the union.

A shopping cart sits in the parking lot of a Super Stop & Shop in Watertown.
A shopping cart sits in the parking lot of a Super Stop & Shop in Watertown. –Michael Fein / Bloomberg News

A union that represents Stop & Shop workers in New England could vote to strike as early as Sunday if negotiations over a new labor contract fail to reach an agreement.

Five branches of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents workers across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, have been negotiating with the grocery chain since January on a new labor contract. The current contract expires this weekend.

The UFCW Local 1445, based in Dedham, is scheduled to hold a meeting on Sunday in which members will vote on whether to authorize a strike if a deal has not yet been reached. Four other UFCW branches in New England previously scheduled votes, but have postponed their meetings as negotiations continue.

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Jim Carvalho, the political director of the UFCW Local 1445, said the two sides are “still pretty far apart’’ on major negotiation issues.

“We’re disappointed with the company that’s looking for so many concessions from our folks,’’ Carvalho said. “Our folks work hard and for them to seek concessions from [workers] when the company is profitable … is way too much to ask for our folks.’’

UFCW Local 1445, which said it represents 10,000 Stop & Shop workers in New England, said the company wants to reduce pensions, increase health care payments, freeze wages, and get rid of premium pay for holiday and Sunday work.

“The Stop & Shop New England and New York Metro Divisions are working diligently and in good faith to reach a fair new contract that continues to offer competitive wages and benefits for our 34,000 store associates in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut,’’ Stop and Shop spokesman Philip Tracey said in an email. “We have a long history of reaching contracts with the unions that represent our Associates without any disruption to their work or customer service and we have no reason to believe that this time will be any different.

The union has been posting updates on its negotiations on Facebook, and it released an ad last week showing company workers in the store asking for shoppers’ support.

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“Tell Stop and Shop: Our families deserve better,’’ the tagline at the end reads.

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