United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW ) Local 1500, New York State’s largest grocery workers Union, has called Federal Mediators into negotiations with the three major supermarkets in hopes of avoiding a crippling strike that would effect over 150 supermarkets and 16,000 workers.
Companies involved in the negotiations are Stop and Shop Supermarket, King Kullen Markets and A&P/Pathmark. The strike would effect supermarkets on Long Island, the Five Boroughs, Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties with its effect possibly being felt in New Jersey and Connecticut. The contract expiration date is Saturday June 26th. Any potential job action will effect the 4th of July weekend for hundreds of thousands of customers.
“We are doing everything we can to avoid a strike,” said Patrick Purcell, spokesperson for UFCW Local 1500 “However, this is a fight between what our members need to survive versus the companies immoral greed. That is the fight: Need versus greed.”
The Union also urged the supermarkets not to mislead the public regarding their ability to operate in the event of a strike. “It would be irresponsible to announce that everything will operate as usual in the event of a strike. To be less than honest would be a real slap in the faces of their customers and could effect sales long after any dispute is settled” said Purcell.
Purcell questioned the publics’ willingness to shop in striking stores. “Does the public want their money exchanging hands with an inexperienced cashier?” Purcell asked. “Do they want to place their bakery orders with some store manager from New Jersey who is more accustomed to eating doughnuts than baking them? The public needs to consider shopping alternatives in the event of a strike. That is the bottom line,” Purcell concluded.
“We do not want a strike” said UFCW Local 1500 Harry Hammin, a Pathmark worker and member of the Union negotiating committee. “However, the supermarkets seem to be doing everything they can to guarantee there is a strike. If that’s what they want, then that is what they will get.”
For consumers, the Union has sent up a web address that will lead them to public updates about the potential strike. The website is accessible here.
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 is based out of Queens Village and represents 23,000 grocery workers in the Metropolitan New York area.