Yesterday’s Eagle Tribune, a Merrimack Valley (Massachusetts) newspaper, posted an article about a strike that has been going on at Shaw’s distribution center in Methuen, where workers distribute meat, dairy and produce to all 176 Shaw’s Supermarkets and Star Markets in New England. About 250 employees are on stike, saying that Shaw’s refuses to give them affordable health insurance. The strike began on March 7th.
According to the article:
“Three hundred union workers originally went on strike after rejecting a contract offer on March 7. They survived on $100 a week from the union and on donated food. The strikers lost health insurance on April 1, forcing them to miss medical appointments and sign up for COBRA or MassHealth. Things improved for them when the state awarded them unemployment benefits starting with the week ending May 1.
“People involved in the strike say there’s no end in sight.”
As anyone who lives in Massachusetts knows, healthcare insurance costs have skyrocketed since the state healthcare reform act was passed in 2006. We would all like affordable health insurance, but until that law is repealed in this state, we can expect our costs to rise.
The article also points out:
“Shaw’s says on its website that, on average, the Methuen workers earn $19.06 per hour, and their weekly health insurance premiums are below the national and regional average. Shaw’s said its first contract offer would be its best, and the company has so far kept that promise; it hasn’t returned to the table with anything the union would accept.”
The dispute between the union and Shaw’s will be worked out by both parties in the future. Meanwhile, I resent the fact that my tax dollars are being used to pay workers on strike. These are people who have chosen not to work at this point, and they should not be entitled to unemployment insurance.