Editor’s note: As of the evening of April 21, UFCW representatives have reached a tentative agreement with Stop & Shop. The tentative agreement still needs to be taken to a ratification vote by membership.
On April 18, over 1,000 people rallied in the parking lot of Stop & Shop in Boston’s South Bay Center in the neighborhood of Dorchester. It was a powerful display of solidarity with Stop & Shop workers as they entered day eight of their strike for a fair contract. In a broad display of inter-union camaraderie, the enthusiastic crowd was lined with flags and banners of about a dozen unions, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Massachusetts Nurses Association, Boston Teachers Union and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — proving true the slogan “Boston is a union town!”
David McClain, a member of IBEW Local 103, spoke to the importance of unions supporting one another. “I’m out here supporting the Stop & Shop workers while they’re on strike because an injustice for one is an injustice for all. And if one person’s job is at stake, all our jobs are at stake.”
Many workers, community members and politicians addressed the crowd, standing atop a large truck fittingly provided by Teamsters Local 25, who have been staunchly in support of the strike from the beginning. One of the speakers was Jose Lopes, a Stop & Shop employee of 37 years. Lopes called on the crowd to continue supporting the strikers moving forward, “You go to work every day for Stop & Shop and you do everything for them, but they don’t think it’s enough. They don’t think it’s enough, they want more from you. Now they want to take our future away from us… I don’t care how long it takes. All you gotta do is stand with me, don’t cross the line!”
Speakers also included prominent politicians, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. After the speeches, the crowd marched around the parking lot before forming a massive picket line in front of the entrance to the store. Despite their messages of support, the politicians appeared to depart the scene shortly after delivering their speeches and did not join the picket line. Brandon Bowser, a member of the Boston Teachers Union Local 66, shared his reflections on the presence of elected officials at the rally, “I think it’s extremely important that they are responsive and have the backs of the union and un-unionized workers as well… But I would encourage the mayor and other elected [officials] to come out and show their support in more than just words. Showing up on the line and walking the line.”
Workers on the picket line expressed gratitude for the large display of support. Dina Sequeira, single mother of three and Stop & Shop worker on the picket line told Liberation News, “We really appreciate everyone that came out to support us. I just want to say thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart… We have families to support and we are just trying our best. The message is to never give up. Stand by your employees, your co-workers. Stand by your families. Never give up. Stay Strong. Never give up.”
Support for the strike is growing rapidly, with the April 18 rally being largest turn out to a picket line yet. Meanwhile, Stop & Shop continues to suffer heavy losses as the strike drags on.