Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 04-18-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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Page 17 of 47

18 THE VALLEY APRIL 18-24, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION Basket in Attleboro, Mass. that customers were being asked to wait outside. An employee confirmed that the store was seeing huge crowds as a worker strike took place a little more than mile up the road at Stop & Shop on Cottage Street. In North Smithfield, Brigido's Store Manager Edie Langlais said the Slatersville Plaza location has seen cus- tomers jump by about a third since the strike began. Normally a slower location, Langlais said the store has had to increase its staffing to keep up with the demand. "We have staff here, and we've added people, and it's great," she said. "It's nice for a change, but it is crazy." At multiple Dave's Market stores, customers were report- ing having trouble finding a parking spot. "Kudos to the staff at Dave's Market, they have every reg- ister open, stockers all over the store, and a big crew at the deli counter serving all the extra customers," posted Cumberland resident Cindy Mauch. In North Providence, Scott Shore couldn't give a defini- tive percentage on the bump in traffic since workers began striking at the Stop & Shop down the road on Mineral Spring Avenue, but said it's "substantial." He said the store added staff and took other steps to keep up with the influx of new customers. A manager at Shaw's in North Providence also reported a substantial increase, but said corporate offices would have to release actual numbers. Kerry Kulesva, a Cumberland resident and worker at Dave's Market in Cumberland, said the store has been "crazy" busy dur- ing the strike, with thousands more people coming in. "It's as busy as a snowstorm or a holiday," she said. Workers are doing extra shifts and working longer hours but are happy to do it, said Kulesva, helping new customers along the way. "We're helping out as much as we can and going as fast as we can," she said. "You have to support Stop & Shop because they're one of us." Workers at the competing chain deserve to be paid, she said. At the larger of two Dave's Market stores in Smithfield, a manager said Monday that the store saw a "very big influx in business in the last four days." Employees have opened extra registers in an effort to do our "very best to take care of the customers," he said. Some stores this week were offering specials seek- ing to take advantage of the increased traffic from the strike. Customers were report- ing changing their shopping habits in response to the strike. "We need Stop & Shop back. Markets are so packed," said local resident Rhoda Lafond. "Hope the workers get what they deserve soon." Stop & Shop workers, meanwhile, were getting sup- port from politicians, other union members and residents of the towns they typically serve during shopping visits. Many said they would never cross a picket line and were supporting the rights of work- ers over corporate interests. Some who did choose to cross the lines found their photos splashed on the internet, shamed for not supporting the union's cause. Last Thursday, April 11, 31,000 members of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) walked off the job in the middle of the day to protest what they called "the company's proposed dras- tic and unreasonable cuts to health care, take home pay, and customer service as well as unlawful conduct." Customers, many having shopped for hours and having full carts, were asked to leave local stores. Last week, store employ- ees protested in front of the chain's North Smithfield loca- tion as the strike continued. Signs urged Stop & Shop to do what's right, asked custom- ers not to cross the picket line, and accused store executives of not bargaining in good faith. "Every two years we kind of go through this, but it's never comes to this," said Jayne Lawrence, a Woonsocket resi- dent who has worked for the company for 17 years. Stop & Shop representatives say they've countered union demands by offering pay increases for all associates, no changes to Sunday overtime pay for full-time workers, paid time off, and health benefits below market costs. Proposed cuts by Stop & Shop would devastate health benefits, drastically increase health costs, and decrease take-home pay, say union representatives. They say they would also impact customer service. "Our 31,000 members who work at Stop & Shop work incredibly hard to provide the great customer service that has made the company bil- lions of dollars in profit and the top grocery store in New England," said the union in a statement. Stop & Shop workers have been negotiating a new con- tract with Stop & Shop repre- sentatives since Jan. 14. Staff writer Lauren Clem also contributed to this story. BREEZE PHOTO BY CHARLES LAWRENCE Striking workers at STOP & SHOP ON COTTAGE STREET in Pawtucket hold signs protesting what they say are unfair labor practices at the supermarket chain. BREEZE PHOTO BY LAUREN CLEM Stop & Shop employees, including BARBARA TONDREAU of Mapleville, DANIELLE ROMANO of Woonsocket, JANE KUNELIUS of Woonsocket and SHANNON LANDRY of Woonsocket protest outside the North Smithfield store on Smithfield Road last Friday, April 12. STRIKE From Page One Rachel A. Baboian, Au. D. Doctor of Audiology Licensed Audiologist 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Building 3, Suite 307, Lincoln, RI • 401-475-6116 Call today to schedule your appointment AND... Ask about our Interest Free Financing! I think you need a hearing test! Why do I need a hairy chest? At Hear For You Hearing and Balance Center we strive for excellence in customer care. Our services include: • Diagnostic Hearing tests ages 6 months & up • Hearing Aid Evaluations • Hearing Aid Sales & Repairs 1,000 sq. ft. in beautiful Lincoln office park. Space has two private offices, common area, and private lavatory. Heat, A/C and electric included. Second floor front at 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite #204, near The Valley Breeze and close to routes 116, 146 and 295. $1,350 per month, with move-in considerations for longer-term lease. Available May 1. Call (401) 744-7595 or (401) 334-9555, x 123, for details or an appointment. Office for Lease:

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