WHY LABOR UNIONS ARE INCREASING INFLUENCE
As negotiations entered their second month, Mike Pietros felt his optimism fade and his anger build. Pietros, fifty-three, had worked for Stop and Shop since 1998, when he was hired as a part-time meat cutter who floated from store to store. In twenty-one years, the North Providence resident had worked his way up to a meat manager’s position at the Cumberland store, and he now sat on the bargaining team for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union hammering out the terms of the next contract.
The grocery chain’s corporate parent, Ahold Delhaize, had posted a $2 billion profit in 2018, but its offers were paltry. The Netherlands-based company had proposed a small wage increase, but also a rise in workers’ health care premiums, and reductions to holiday pay and to pension benefits for new full-timers. The UFCW saw this fundamentally as a pay cut, and an attempt to create a two-tiered employee system. By the time the old contract expired on February 23, their respective positions had hardened.