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Shaw’s, Star Market truckers go on strike; company says it will resume negotiations, maintain service

Jim Kelly, a truck driver for Shaw's, looks at the driver of a truck leaving a Shaw's distribution facility while walking a picket line on Monday in Wells, Maine.
Jim Kelly, a truck driver for Shaw's, looks at the driver of a truck leaving a Shaw's distribution facility while walking a picket line on Monday in Wells, Maine.Gregory Rec/Associated Press

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Truck drivers for Shaw’s supermarkets represented by the Teamsters went on strike Monday, stopping their shipment of non-perishable food items to some 150 Shaw’s and Star Market stores across New England, including 76 in Massachusetts.

Shaw’s said in a statement Monday that the parties will return to the bargaining table this week, and the company remains “committed to reaching an agreement that recognizes the tremendous value our associates provide to our Company’s current and future success.”

“We look forward to our employees returning to work this week,” a spokesperson said. “We are prepared for this labor dispute and will continue to serve our stores with our regularly scheduled deliveries.”

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To make up for the dozens of workers off the job, the company said it has expanded its use of third-party drivers to ensure its grocery stores do not experience a disruption in delivery service. Store managers at several Shaw’s and Star Market locations in Massachusetts said they were not authorized to speak to the press about whether the strike is affecting shipments or what types of items may be delayed.

Joe Piccone, a business agent for Teamsters Local 340 in South Portland, said fruit, vegetables, and refrigerated items are handled by a facility in Methuen. Drivers there are not on strike.

“Nobody wants to strike,” Piccone said of the 70 drivers and mechanics represented by the Teamsters who have been working without a contract since October. “These guys are claiming that they have a great offer for us but the lawyer who works for the company quit.”

Workers are striking at 205 Spencer Drive in Wells, Maine, at a Shaw’s distribution center.

Shaw’s and Star Market are owned by Albertsons Cos., one of the largest food and drug retailers in the United States, which also owns Acme and Safeway, among other supermarket chains. According to the company’s latest annual report and the grocery stores’ websites, there are 21 Star Market and 55 Shaw’s stores in Massachusetts.

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Piccone said the dispute is a slap in the face of drivers who toiled during the pandemic to ensure people had plenty to eat. The company, meanwhile, profited during the pandemic, he said.

“They kept the store shelves stocked,” he said. “The pandemic profit that these guys made is completely crazy.”

Anissa Gardizy of the Globe staff contributed to this report.