Liberation News staff have been supporting and having conversations with Stop & Stop workers on strike. Below are excerpts from interviews taken on the picket lines in Providence:

Paul Ciancola
shop steward at Stop & Shop (West River Street)
Providence, Rhode Island

Paul Ciancola. Liberation Photo.

Paul Ciancola. Liberation Photo.

Well, I’ve been with the company for 27 years, it’s a lot of good workers. We’re looking for a fair contract. We just want it to stay the same. It’s a very successful company. They made $2 billion in profit last year….

The public response has been very good. A lot of customers are pulling in, and they’re turning around and pulling out. We’re marking it down, we’ve had like 200 or 300 a day. And that’s what we need to win this! We want to go back to work. But we can’t lose what we have already. We can’t lose that.

…I hope this ends soon, I hope the company realizes that this is not good, it’s not good for business. We want to get back in there, and do our job. Just give us a fair contract. That’s all we’re asking. We had it for years, and we need it. If we lose it, we’ll never get it back.

Liberation Photo.

Liberation Photo.

Meredith Nelson
Florist at Stop & Shop (Pitman Street)
Providence, Rhode Island

It’s good! It’s like, you know, have you marched downtown? I’ve done a lot of that, I’m a product of the 60s, I’ve done a ton of this… I’ve never done it for a union. Because I wasn’t raised with the union being an important part, but it is…. So this is a good chance for you to do something you believe. I’m glad you’re here.

Galen Hume
Bakery worker at Shop & Stop (Pitman Street)
Providence, Rhode Island

Way back when, I was a teamster with UPS, Local 690. We did a lot of strike support with other locals, like small labor unions, small tradesmen, electrical workers, things like that….Teamsters are awesome that way. The most important thing they’ve been helping us with is not running our lines…

The community here on the east side has been a majority positive… They come around here, they beep, they’ve brought us some fruit, some pizza, honk the horn all the time. You get a few stragglers who are a little miffed at the inconvenience of not having their store to go to, but, you know, most people seem to be with us in that regard….It’s a lot of help… We don’t win this as ourselves, we win this with the support of the community, because we are members of the community. People that work for them, you know. That’s us… We service our community.

Galen Hume. Liberation Photo.

Galen Hume. Liberation Photo.

…if they break wages here, and they break our unions here, then that means they’re able to depress wages everywhere. So suddenly the standard that we’re setting as a unionized I guess conglomerate in the New England region, that starts to push all the other ones down because they say “oh, we can pay them here this,” and then other stores will start to match. And that’s just how that works. So we’re not only fighting for our cost of living stuff, and our reasonable increases at our contract time, but we’re also fighting to keep the types of service wages up in the community at large!

Bear with us while we get through this. We’re trying. And we’re fighting really hard. And when this is over, come back! Come back and let us be your community leaders again. Let us be of service to you again. You know, because we are you. We live where you live. We shop where you shop. And we appreciate that. That’s another way you can support us, is make sure that you come back afterward.