Facing expiring contract, Stop & Shop workers to meet Sunday in Pittsfield, Westfield


PITTSFIELD — A collective bargaining unit representing unionized Stop & Shop workers in Berkshire County has scheduled a meeting for Sunday, possibly to have members consider a new three-year contract.

Springfield-based Local 1459 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union has scheduled meetings in both Pittsfield and Westfield on Sunday that both begin at 10 a.m. The Pittsfield meeting will take place at the IUE Hall on 789 Tyler St. The Westfield meeting is at Tekoa Country Club on 459 Russell Road.

The union's current three-year contract with Stop & Shop expires on Saturday night.

Both sides are negotiating in Providence, R.I. and a final contract offer had yet to be released, Local 1459 representative Jeff Jones said on Thursday.

During the negotiations, "major stumbling blocks" have arisen on issues including raises, pensions and health insurance benefits.

"More or less every proposal the company has put forward is a takeaway," he said.

Due to the status of the negotiations, Jones said Thursday it is unclear what type of action union members will be asked to take on Sunday.

"It might be an informational meeting to bring the members up to speed on where we're at," Jones said. "We're going to work (Friday) and Saturday to try and get a package."

Local 1459 is one of five UFCW collective bargaining units representing 34,000 workers in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island that are currently negotiating a new three-year contract with Stop & Shop.

Local 1459 has 245 Berkshire members that are employed in Stop & Shop's two stores in Pittsfield and single market in North Adams, Jones said. Another union, UFCW Local 371, which is based in Westport, Conn., also represents some Berkshire employees, Jones said.

In a statement, spokesman Philip Tracy said Stop & Shop's 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 its workers in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

"It is important that any agreement responds to the competitive challenges facing our industry and puts our people and our divisions in the strongest possible position to succeed," Tracy said. "We have a long history of reaching contracts with the union 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."

Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413-496-6224.


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