Stop & Shop, union negotiations continue

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An employee of the Vineyard Haven Stop & Shop has tested positive for COVID-19. – Gabrielle Mannino

A Boston union that represents thousands of Stop & Shop employees in Massachusetts has authorized a strike, which could affect the supermarket chain’s two Island stores.

The union, Local 1445, voted Sunday to authorize the strike, according to a statement from the union. This allows the local to call for a strike of its Stop & Shop members at any time.

The negotiations are over a new contract for Stop & Shop employees as their previous contract expires this year.

The Island’s two Stop & Shops in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown are part of Local 328, which is based in Providence, R.I. Local 1445 and Local 328 are two of five locals working together to negotiate new contracts with Stop & Shop.

Local 328 president Tim Melia told The Times in a phone conversation that he has not set a date for a strike authorization vote yet, and it depends on negotiations this week, but a strike would “definitely affect” the Island.

“We’re going to try to continue negotiating with this company,” Melia said. “We are just looking for a fair and equitable agreement for our hard-working men and women of Stop & Shop.”

So far, the Boston local is the only union to authorize a strike.

“Stop & Shop employees are Island residents, and we would hope for their sake as well as everyone who shops there that there’s a fair and equitable resolution as fast as possible,” Nancy Gardella, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, said.

In a press release, Stop & Shop said it remains committed to its employees.

“We’re proud to be working with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445 and 1459 to reach a new contract for the Stop & Shop associates they represent. We’re focused on ensuring that Stop & Shop remains one of the strongest food retail employers in the region with a new contract that continues to provide: Competitive wages; and affordable, flexible health care for every eligible employee,” the statement reads.