If you live in New England you are likely aware that employees of the Stop & Shop Supermarket chain are on strike. I haven’t spent any time looking into the specific issues that caused the failure of contract negotiations between the company and the union. It’s not really my fight.
The stores, at least the ones in my town, remain open with managers, corporate staff and some non-union employees doing their best. The deli, the fish counter and the bakery are basically empty, there is limited fresh produce and meat.
How do I know all this? I still shop there regularly. And here’s why.
On the first morning of their strike I was driving my 20-year-old Toyota to work when the oil warning light came on. I headed over to the grocery store to pick up a quart of oil with the thought that I would pick up few muffins for the office.
When I got to the store there picketers outside the store who told me the store was closed. It seemed a reasonable assertion given the empty parking lot and the strikers picketing at both entrances. So I drove down the road and picked up the oil and headed to work without muffins.
The issue for me is that the store wasn’t actually closed. Not only had the picketers lied, but they also lied while marching in front of the store carrying signs that claimed the company was negotiating in bad faith!
There is another grocery store in town. It’s much smaller, poorly laid out, and the parking lot is terrible. I don’t really like to go there on a good day. But I might have gone there along with a few thousand other people during the course of the strike. As I said before it’s not my fight. But the strikers burned whatever sympathy I might have had and whatever willingness I would have had to deal with the inconvenience of the overcrowded alternative.