Stop & Shop strikers get boost from AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addresses a rally of striking Stop & Shop workers and supporters in New Haven, Conn. on April 17. | Art Perlo / PW

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—”We have your back today, tomorrow, and as long as it takes.” That was the message from Richard Trumka on the seventh day of a strike by 31,000 Stop & Shop grocery store workers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. He spoke at a spirited rally of 200 striking workers and supporters from other unions and community. Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation.

The rally was held in the parking lot at the Amity Road Stop & Shop in New Haven. Trumka’s message echoed previous speakers. “No matter what you need, we’re here for you,” said a representative from the Teamsters, adding that union truck drivers would not cross picket lines. Jodi Barr, President of Council 4 AFSCME, representing 30,000 state, local, and private sector workers, said, “This is history. Our members are not crossing picket lines.” Scattered in the crowd were signs of support from an alphabet soup of unions, including Firefighters, Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), AFSCME, UNITE-HERE, AFT, UAW, USW, and IAM.

Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz and State Treasurer Shawn Wooden, foreground right, were among the elected officials supporting the workers at the New Haven rally. | Art Perlo / PW

Sen. Richard Blumenthal told the crowd, “I’ve been on picket lines at 20 [Stop & Shop] stores around the state. The parking lots are empty. The stores are like ghost towns. You are winning.” He said that the company used the $2 billion in profits it made last year to increase dividends by 11%. “They ought to be giving that to you. We are watching history.”

“I’m proud of the solidarity of the workers,” declared Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn Wooden. “Those [$2 billion] profits are made on the backs of the workers every day.”

Sal Luciano, President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, said, “That’s how capitalism works. Ahold [The Dutch company that owns Stop & Shop] is going to take their $2 billion in profits out of the state and out of the country” instead of spending it on the workers.

Richard Trumka concluded with a clear message: “You are fighting not just for yourselves but for an America that respects its workers. We won’t give in. We won’t back down. Because we’re the ones who do the work.” But the last words came from two young children of one of the strikers. They led the crowd chanting, “What do we want? Contract! When do we want it? Now!”


Art Perlo
Art Perlo

Art Perlo lived in New Haven, Conn., where he was active in labor and community struggles. He did research and writing on economic issues in Connecticut, including work with the Coalition to End Child Poverty in Connecticut which helped pave the way for the movement for progressive tax reform in the state. He wrote on national economic issues for the People's World and was a member of the CPUSA Economic Commission.