I first heard about the strike at Stop & Shop a couple of days ago. To be honest, the impact of how it was going to affect me didn't really hit me until I was putting my grocery list together for the upcoming week.
As I put together my list I was able to picture exactly which aisles I would need to travel down to find what I was looking for. That's the benefit of having a local store. It's comfortable, it's always there for you, and it feels like home. Even seeing the familiar face of an employee makes your day just that little bit better. Sometimes they even become your friend and are always available to chat and catch up on each other's families (Hi Belinda!).
But we have to remember that sometimes our local and friendly grocery store is part of a larger corporation and as we know, corporations aren't without problems. The purpose of corporations is to make money and to increase the net worth of their shareholders. Even the managing director can be sued by the shareholders if they think the director(s) haven't acted in their company's best interest.
The power of the corporation seems to be boundless. They hold all of the rights of the citizens, but they bear non of the citizenship's obligations. Robert Hinkley goes on to explain that this may make them strong citizens, but it does not necessarily make them good citizens.
Corporations can only operate with the support of the people that work for them. Employees have to do what the managers say, managers have to do what the directors says, directors have to do what the officers says, the officers have to do what the board of directors says, and the board of directors have to do what the stakeholders and shareholders says. But what happens when a cog in the wheel stops? What happens when someone says "No" and when they become transformative citizens?
The system stops functioning.
I decided to visit my local Framingham Stop & Shop to talk to the employees that were on strike. I spoke with Stop & Shop employee, Celine Blaisdell, who was leading the group.
Click on the link below to hear the full interview:
I asked Celine to talk about why the employees were on strike and what they are trying to achieve.
Blaisdell went on to say that they were striking to fight to maintain their benefits, mostly their healthcare, their pensions, and their vacations. They are also looking for a reasonable and yet modest pay raise.
Ahold Delhaize, the parent company of Stop & Shop, reported good earnings last year but still plans on cutting back on healthcare benefits, according to Blaisdell who also explained, "We are the reason they are so successful."
I asked Blaisdell what they are looking for customers to do while the strike was ongoing. She replied that they are looking for customers not to shop at Stop & Shop and not to shop at Hannafords (they are part of Ahold Delhaize) until the workers are able to get a fair contract.
What else can we do as customers and consumers, other than not shop at Stop & Shop? I say let's push corporations, the government and fellow citizens to seriously consider Robert Hinkley's "Code for Corporate Citizenship" so we that we create a society who's foundation is just and equitable.
Code for Corporate Citizenship
Like I first mentioned, I didn't truly feel the impact of the Stop & Shop strike until I was putting together my grocery list. But why was that? Why did I have to wait until it impacted me to care? This situation has taught me that I need to extend my circle of compassion a little bit more. I'm going to try to do a better job at lending my support to those that need it, without waiting to consider "what's in it for me."
So until the Stop & Shop employees receive fair wages and benefits, our family will need to find a new grocery store to go to. However, I do look forward to the day where I can go back to my local Framingham Stop & Shop where it feels like home and where I'm surrounded by family.
Keep up the good fight!
Banks, J. A. (2008). Diversity,Group Identity, and Citizenship Education in a Global Age. Educational Researcher, 37(3), 129-139. doi:10.3102/0013189X08317501
Hinkley, R. C. (2011). Time to change corporations: Closing the citizenship gap.
Shifting our paradigm of thinking so that we not only create a more compassionate world, but a world that works for all.