The Strange Message of Striking Against Your Own Employer

stopshop-strike-featured

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder how unique I am in finding these sorts of strikes to be odd:

As a strike involving Stop & Shop employees entered its second day, the stakes and scale were huge — thousands of workers over hundreds of stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island in a dispute about pay, benefits and economic security.

But the battle Friday morning was being fought customer by customer: On West River Street, like at other Stop & Shop locations throughout the region, striking United Food and Commercial Workers members gathered to rally support for their efforts and to get them to take their grocery dollars elsewhere. …

“Turn around!” one striking worker yelled as some customers pulled in. Some of the cars would turn around, prompting cheers from the two dozen workers on the sidewalk; others drove in anyway, to little other reaction besides disappointment.

I’ve never quite gotten the messaging intention of this behavior or, frankly, how it fits with healthy relationships.  Employees of a store are going outside that store and telling people not to shop there so they can come to an agreement with the managers and go back to work.  It’s just… strange.

In what other area of life would we consider it healthy for one party to a relationship to seek to embarrass and harm the other for leverage within that relationship?  Would you walk away from your daily obligations to your husband or wife in order to go march around your neighborhood with a sign blaming him or her for not doing enough housework in the hopes that he or she will increase the help so that you can return to a happy state of affairs?

That would seem to be a bullying, even abusive, thing to do, and to the extent that your complaints are justified, many of your neighbors would either suggest that you get out of the relationship or find a more-cooperative way to get your feelings across.

The bullying aspect — that is, the show of power — is amplified by the number of elected officials and politicians weighing in on the strikers’ behalf.  Some might also suggest that the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) is joining in with the strike:

https://www.ripta.com/due-to-the-stop-shop-supermarket-strike-ripta-will-detour-seventeen-routes-until-further-notice

If striking Stop & Shop employees are causing so much disruption and possible danger to Rhode Islanders who have nothing to do with their dispute, shouldn’t that deserve the attention of law enforcement?  I asked RIPTA what, specifically, the authority is being cautious about, and spokeswoman Barbara Polichetti responded that “there is likely to be a lot of pedestrian activity at these locations due to the work action.”

Somehow refusing to drop riders off or pick them up outside of Stop & Shop stores gives the impression of joining the cars that are turning around to the cheers of the strikers.



  • bagida’wewinini

    “In what other area of life would we consider it healthy for one party to a relationship to seek to embarrass and harm the other for leverage within that relationship?”

    You use the relationship of marriage to answer your own question , but its a poor analogy given that the parties in marriage come to the relationship with legal rights and in most progressive places the partners in marriage are equals. In the relationship between workers and owners there are legal rights for both sides but there is no equality. The owner of Stop & Shop is Ahold Delhaize of the Netherlands and is worth near 29 Billion dollars. While on the other hand you can drive by these stores and see the workers holding signs on the sidewalks. I don’t think there is much of an equal relationship there.
    As to the workers strategy of picketing and trying to convince shoppers to go elsewhere time will tell if they can get what they want and retain customers. But the same can be said of the owner..

    “If striking Stop & Shop employees are causing so much disruption and possible danger to Rhode Islanders who have nothing to do with their dispute, shouldn’t that deserve the attention of law enforcement?”

    I believe historically law enforcement has been used to protect the interests of wealthy owners and I expect no difference in this case. Its funny how the same defenders of the First Amendment usually find some pretext to work around it when the owner classes bottom line is in question

  • Bezukhov

    …striking United Food and Commercial Workers members gathered to rally support for their efforts and to get them to take their grocery dollars elsewhere. …

    I’ve been doing that for years. Stop and Shop’s prices are outrageous.

  • ShannonEntropy

    As usual it’s the “little guy” — the peeps who need to use RIPTA to shop — hurt the most during conflicts like this. But there’s a reason they call the bus here The Loser Cruiser

    Ever since they put The House of Dope https://thehouseofhopecdc.org/ in Warwick these creeps are always hanging out waitin’ for the bus on Narragansett Blvd. One filthy homo ‘ sex worker’ actually tried to solicit me recently on Ocean Ave by the RIYC

    Lucky me… I live in Pawtuxet Village and just walk over to StopnSlop on Warwick Ave in Cranston if I only need a few things. But I actually come from a very blue collar family and on the male side of my family there are union members from mining to steel working to teamsters to auto workers and my godfather was a HS teacher so there is no fricken way I am *ever* gonna cross a picket line

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29GJxkW-hKI

    • Rhett Hardwick

      A couple of things come to mind. My local Go n’ Grab has been experimenting with robots (cleaning the floors, etc). I wonder if this is creating some fear.
      A number of years ago, I found myself in Salem, MA with time on my hands, so I took a walk. I came across a teacher’s strike. They were walking in a circle around city hall (I think) carrying signs. I noticed several things. One, they appeared remarkably “unprofessional” with regard to attire. Two, they couldn’t look at the crowd that had gathered, I assumed they were embarrassed.
      Unlike Shannon, I will cross a picket line, but not for Stop & Shop.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      “The House of Dope”
      Had to Google that one. I agree that homelessness is one of America’s great shames, What it needs is a unified response. I recall an incident in Texas where a city was foreclosing on tax liens, making the people who had lived there many years homeless. They then used the houses to shelter the “homeless”. There are numerous articles on middle class people making housing out of storage containers. This suggests numerous alternatives. I suppose a major problem is that homeless housing would have to meet so many permits and regulations that it becomes diseconomic. Would storage containers with heat and portable showers be possible?

      • ShannonEntropy

        https://warwickpost.com/fair-house-renovation-creates-10-affordable-housing-apartments/

        The neighbors didn’t get a chance to protest it and in fact never realized the place was gonna be a dope rehab place until it was announced in the Warwick paper cuz they didn’t even have to getting a zoning variance cuz the building was previously a nursing home and was already zoned multi-family / group home — none of that is mentioned in the above story

        Mrs Entropy and I went to the Grand Opening and it was quite the fancy affair, with an open bar [ I got suitably plastered cuz we walked over ] and an exquisite buffet

        HoH’s leaders were all there: very upper crust limousine liberals and *none* of them lived anywhere near the place, most living on LaProv’s east side, EG, or Borrington

        As you might expect the place has been nothing but trouble with break-ins and other ‘nuisance’ crimes we never used to have

        Luckily Chez Entropy is completely fenced in with a gate on the driveway so we have been sparred… so far. But Mrs Entropy insists I lock all the doors even if I’m just going out to the garage for a few minutes

        • Rhett Hardwick

          Have you thought of Rottweilers?
          “Not every Rottweiler owner is a drug dealer, but every drug dealer is a Rottweiler owner”. (the “stuff” is kept in the garage so they can deny ownership, the Rottweilers guard the garage.)

          • ShannonEntropy

            Anyone who tries to break into my house when I’m home is gonna need a Medical Examiner, not an ER doc who specializes in dog bites

            Have I ever mentioned that I am a Life Member of the NRA ??

            Well, not *technically* a Life Member but they keep sending me “Renew your membership and get this nifty gift” notices so I keep sending in the money and the last time they sent a card the expiration date was Sept 2032

            There is only a small chance I will still be alive then… and a *much* smaller chance that the Libs won’t have had the 2nd Amendment repealed by then so either way it’s either my life or the NRA’s life

          • Rhett Hardwick

            I understand “We don’t call 911″
            Did you get your NRA knife with the last renewal? Just picked up a box of the “Rifleman” in a yard sale, 50’s – 60’s. One had a cover story of the U.S. supplying Castro with guns not yet available in U.S. “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and membership in the NRA.”

          • ShannonEntropy

            Drop on by, Rhett… and we’ll play some RUSSIAN BASEBALL !!

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5pPX-NlhIU

  • ShannonEntropy

    Rhett & Yours Truly tend to veer off… Sorry, Justin !!

    I had to go up to Franklin Mass today and driving past the S&S there were at least 50 picketers even tho the store looked dark

    Ooops… on the way home I forgot to drive past the one on Warwick Ave but the Friday ProJo said there were picketers out front even tho the store was closed

    Unlike manufacturing strike places where they just pick up where they left off after the strike is over, the S&S strikes means *tons* of perishables like eggs milk fruit etc will be lost forever. The cost of perishable stuff they agreed to pay for but that can’t be delivered is also lost

    The usual equation the companies use in these negotiations is thus thrown into disarray [ Money saved by not paying strikers during the strike can off-set their new higher pay ]

    Mrs Entropy says: “Who cares ?? There is a Shaw’s less than a quarter mile from S&S and I Iike the Dave’s at Hoxsie 4 Corners or Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods better anyway”

    That ‘typical’ consumer reaction does not bode well for the S&S strikers

    A Joke: Did you hear that Stop&Shop and A&P are merging ??

    [[ A&P stands for Atlantic&Pacific and is a very popular grocery store chain where I grew up in the mid-west ]]

    Yep… the new stores are gonna be called Stop&P

  • BasicCaruso

    “That would seem to be a bullying, even abusive, thing to do, and to the extent that your complaints are justified, many of your neighbors would either suggest that you get out of the relationship or fine [sic] a more-cooperative way to get your feelings across.”

    Oh! If you want a raise in pay, all you have to do
    Go and ask the boss for it and he will give it to you
    Yes, he will give it to you, my friends, he will give it to you
    A raise in pay, without delay, oh, he will give it to you

    Oooooh, put it on the ground, spread it all around
    Dig it with a hoe: it will make your flowers grow!

    • Justin Katz

      If you want to make your boss spread his profits all around
      Just picket on the streets until the customers won’t show
      A business with no profits cannot possibly shut down
      Believe me!
      The boss and his investors will have nowhere else to go

      • BasicCaruso

        For men who own the industries I’m shedding bitter tears
        They haven’t made a single dime in over thirty years
        In over thirty years, my friends, in over thirty years
        Not one thin dime in all that time, in over thirty years. Oooohhhhh…

        • Justin Katz

          The bosses can’t expect that much
          The workplace is like “going Dutch”
          And don’t you worry that they’ll fold
          The picket lines are spinning gold

          • BasicCaruso

            All together now!

            The men who own the industries, they own no bonds and stocks
            They own no yachts and limousines, or gems the size of rocks.
            They own no big estates with pools, or silken BVDs,
            Because they pay the working man such fancy salaries.
            Ohhh….

          • Justin Katz

            All those precious things they’ve got, we can take them all away.
            If we make this comp’ny unprofit’ble, still they must stay
            I say, that’s right! We organize because money’s power,
            But trust me that the powerful will stick with what we sour

          • ShannonEntropy

            Cat’s foot iron claw
            Neurosurgeons scream for more
            At paranoia’s poison door
            Twenty first century schizoid man

            Blood rack barbed wire
            Politicians’ funeral pyre
            Innocents raped with napalm fire
            Twenty first century schizoid man

            Death seed blind man’s greed
            Poets’ starving children bleed
            Nothing he’s got he really needs
            Twenty first century schizoid man

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wspeXsgTWaA

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