fb-pixel Skip to main content

Stop & Shop president apologizes directly to customers in e-mail

At the Stop & Shop on Watertown’s Pleasant Street, the store was mostly empty Tuesday except for one employee walking near the Easter display. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Stop & Shop sent a note Monday apologizing directly to customers as the union workers’ strike in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island continued into its sixth day Tuesday.

Mark McGowan, Stop & Shop’s president, sent an e-mail to customers in which he apologized “for the inconvenience that the strike has caused our loyal customers.”

In the letter, McGowan acknowledged “the valuable role our associates play” in the stores, but still defended the company’s offerings in contentious contract negotiations.

“The wages, healthcare, and pension offer for all of our employees ... are among the best for New England retail and supermarket associates,” McGowan wrote. “This contract offer is no exception.”


McGowan also noted that most stores would be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (for anyone who dares to cross a picket line), with some reduced services.

“Bakery, Customer Service, Deli, and Seafood counters will not be operational, and we currently have a limited meat selection. Our gas stations are also closed at this time,” he wrote. “Be assured, we are grateful for your understanding and are working around the clock to get back to business as usual. In the meantime, thanks for sticking with us.”

Union officials could not immediately be reached for comment on this specific matter. However, they sent a statement on Tuesday saying the union is “amazed at the ever-increasing community support and appreciate all that New England is doing to help us fight for better jobs and better health care.”

The company’s apology comes after about 31,000 workers, unhappy with contract negotiations with the company, went on strike on Thursday. (Negotiations through federal mediators have continued, but the workers remained on strike as of Tuesday afternoon.)

Union leaders previously said they oppose the company’s proposed contract change, which they said would cut wages, pensions, and health insurance. The company has also cut staff and relied more on automation, they said.


“Stop & Shop’s latest proposal will drastically increase out-of-pocket health care costs, kick approximately 1,000 employees’ spouses off of their health care plan, and make it more challenging for 31,000 people to provide for themselves and their families,” union officials said in the Tuesday statement. “If the company’s most recent offer becomes a reality, every working family, neighborhood, consumer, and community will be hurt.”

However, Stop & Shop says that their contract proposal includes competitive wages, healthcare for eligible employees, and retirement benefits.

In a statement sent to the Globe on Tuesday, the company said that “Stop & Shop would pay at least 92 percent of health premiums for family coverage and at least 88 percent for individual coverage — much more than other large retail employers pay.” Company officials continued: “Even with national health care costs increasing rapidly, associates still would pay well below the national average for health premiums,” and said that deductibles would not increase or change, adding: “Spouses are eligible for health care coverage unless their own employer offers health care.”

Stop & Shop is the biggest grocery chain in New England by market share, according to Shelby Publishing Co., owner of The Griffin Report of the Northeast.