The politicians who lowered Stop & Shop workers’ market-clearing wages now support their strike

One of our local supermarkets is now crippled: “New England Stop & Shop strike enters ninth day, as stores sit empty and unstocked; With support from Warren, Biden and Buttigieg, 31,000 striking workers say the grocery giant’s proposals would mean more expensive health care and worse retirement benefits.” (NBC):

Stop & Shop’s parent company, Ahold Delhaize, reported profits in the billions but is asking workers to pay more for their insurance and cutting their retirement benefits, according to Erikka Knuti, spokesperson for United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which represents the striking workers.

Knuti said 75 percent of workers at Stop & Shop are part time, working multiple jobs and barely “cobbling together” a living wage.

On April 12, Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren visited her striking constituents.

“Do not cross the picket line,” Warren said, addressing potential shoppers. “Understand people on the picket line are not just fighting for their families. They’re fighting for all our families. They’re fighting for basic fairness and equality in this country.”

Since Warren’s remarks, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and former Vice President Joe Biden have also joined workers on the picket line.

As a proud former union worker myself, I can sympathize with these folks who work all day on their feet for low wages. (With proper planning, there are a lot of easier ways to make money in Massachusetts!)

But I’m wondering if the workers’ primary enemies aren’t the very politicians who are showing up to “support” them. What better way to lower the market-clearing wage for a low-skill supermarket worker than to open the floodgates of low-skill immigration? Forming a union and striking might bump the paycheck slightly, but it can’t undo the reduction caused by tens of millions of immigrants and their children competing for the same jobs.

My neighbors’ Facebook feeds are lit up with the virtuous recounting their heroic tales of driving to Whole Foods, for example, instead. Yet Whole Foods has fought unionization for decades and the founder compared unionization to herpes.

Given that Stop & Shop regularly hires and trains new workers, I don’t know why the stores are running on such a barebones level. What stops the company from hiring and training replacement workers? (this Obama Administration ruling?) How much training does a person who stocks shelves get?

Related:

  • “Labor Board Tells Boeing New Factory Breaks Law” (nytimes, 2011), in which central planners in Washington, D.C. determined whether or not a company could build a new factory in order to escape a union: “In what may be the strongest signal yet of the new pro-labor orientation of the National Labor Relations Board under President Obama, the agency filed a complaint Wednesday seeking to force Boeing to bring an airplane production line back to its unionized facilities in Washington State instead of moving the work to a nonunion plant in South Carolina. In its complaint, the labor board said that Boeing’s decision to transfer a second production line for its new 787 Dreamliner passenger plane to South Carolina was motivated by an unlawful desire to retaliate against union workers for their past strikes in Washington and to discourage future strikes.” (see also Licence Raj)
  • “20 women slept with me to get promotion” (life in an English supermarket)

13 thoughts on “The politicians who lowered Stop & Shop workers’ market-clearing wages now support their strike

  1. Given that Stop & Shop regularly hires and trains new workers, I don’t know why the stores are running on such a barebones level. What stops the company from hiring and training replacement workers?

    You must be reading the wrong news. Some sources say that it’s difficult for Stop & Shop to hire replacement workers due to the low unemployment rate (3½%) in Massachusetts. On the other hand, if that horrible socialist Obama did something to prevent hiring such workers, the “market-clearing wage” would be irrelevant. That’s assuming that such a thing exists outside of textbooks in the first place.

    It’a also unclear how the mayor of South Bend, Indiana could have increased immigration.

  2. While most prices are 1000% higher, food prices have only quadrupled in the last 20 years. Grocery stores are dropping left & right in even the center of the economic boom, Calif*. You have to drive a lot longer to get food than 20 years ago. Millenials are either being told to or choosing to eat at restaurants more.

    • With exception of Milk, which costs the same $1.99 per gallon, as when I immigrated in 1990. I think you will also find that most basic foods like flour, eggs, beef, pork and chicken and potatoes are closer to same price than 4 times the price of 20 or 29 years ago. Probably vegetables have seen more inflation than other foods, and high quality bread is somewhat expensive, but 29 years ago, it couldn’t really reliably be sourced in united states.

    • Viking, where do you shop? I buy milk for around $4 per gallon, the chips $3.69, organic > $6 per gallon. $1.99 sometimes cheaper sounds about right for early to mid 1990-th. The cheapest eggs were $49/dozen back than, I think they at least doubled now. I think that milk gone up by much around 2012, from my sporadic shopping memories.

    • At Kroger Inc (Oregon’s Fred Meyer), the last milk I bought was $2.69. Every third week, there is a discount on milk at the local Kroger’s, when the price is around $2/gallon. The local Costco charged $4.20 for 2 gallons last I looked, which is ok if you have room in freezer. Winco discount bag your own groceries, no credit card, low cost semi ethnic (Mexican) store charged $1.91 for their store brand milk. $4 per gallon sounds like Trader Joe’s or whole foods market. Those are good for cheese and wine, but if you want to get meat, vegetables and milk, you get ripped off. Go to a busy ethnic store that rotates the stock quickly, and with poor shoppers, so they have to compete on price.

      Here is another comparison:

      https://www.thekitchn.com/costco-walmart-price-comparison-256403

      There is a good reason for the milk price not to move. It costs the same wholesale as it did 20-30-40 years ago.

      https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/results/BD0DB953-7DE1-33AC-9265-BED5A72BB891

      This shows wholesale prices (received by farmer) for milk, which was $12-15 per 100 pounds (cwt) in 1980, equivalent of $1.1 to 1.4/gallon.

      Chicken on the other hand, has doubled in wholesale price since 1991:

      https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/results/47D6A8A4-32A5-39CF-A5E5-4E6900D62083

      I am impressed withh this USDA database:

      https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/recent_stats

      https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/

  3. The supermarket business seems like a really competitive business with very think margins so whatever the employer is trying to accomplish is probably necessary and better for the employees than going bust — like waht would Warren and the other clowns know about the economics of the supermarket business? Here in NYC you really try to steer clear of the unionized supermarkets like Gristedes with their sullen uncooperative workforce, low quality products and sky high prices in favor of say Whole Foods with a mostly cooperative and helpful non-unionized workforce. The geniuses who run NYC teamed up with the supermarket workers union to pressure Amazon in order to force the unionization of Whole Foods. Amazon pulled out rather than give in and New Yorkers ended up with zero.

  4. Phil is a sexist.
    He published a list of easier ways to make money in Massachusetts, but that advice was mostly directed at women and is not really helpful to men unless they self-identify as women; and even then, I am not sure it would help those pseudo-women much.
    The best advice for men, as Phil suggested in another thread, is to accost the faithful NYT readers of all genders and persuasions and to force them write uncovered S&P calls. Either that or prostitution of course.

  5. “What better way to lower the market-clearing wage for a low-skill supermarket worker than to open the floodgates of low-skill immigration?”

    Please no more of this, unless if the immigrant speaks English! I’m feed up when I’m faced with an employee who doesn’t speak English to help me with my shopping experience.

    As for the strikers at Stop & Shop, please note that those employee are thinking they will make a career by working at Stop & Shop, or other similar low-skill jobs such as working at fast food so called restaurants. Such work is not a career builder, it is simply a temporary “job” to get you from point-A to point-B on as a needed basics.

    I do not feel sorry for the strikers at all for not getting enough pay or benefit. Nor do I feel sorry for the strikers for believing in the empty words they get from their politicians, especially those who come to their “aid” from outside the State.

    • “Such work is not a career builder, it is simply a temporary “job””

      This is such an out-dated and ill-informed view of the current U.S. job market.

      “I do not feel sorry for the strikers at all for not getting enough pay or benefit.”

      No one is asking for your pity, simply your money ( if you’re a consumer of these stores ) so they can earn a fair wage.

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