“Work hard” Says Rhode Island Stop & Shop Manager About Low Wages

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Stop & Shop has hundreds of locations around the New England area including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and more. They have been around for a while, dating as far back as the early 1900s. Throughout their years, they’ve had competition with other grocery stores and despite this, have been fairly successful. However, in more recent times, they’ve built a name for themselves in more ways than one.

Stop & Shop is known to be on the more expensive side, not quite Whole Foods level, but quite a lot higher than other stores one can shop at for similar quality goods. Surely, these additional expenses have gone into bettering their surrounding local communities and their own staff, right? Not so it seems as there have been issues throughout the years that have resulted in strikes, spikes in needed union activity, and more. The most recent strike in 2019 resulted in a win for the unions and workers, and also where a spokeswoman for Stop & Shop, Jennifer Brogan, interestingly stated “Most full-time employees at Stop & Shop earn $21.30 an hour.”

The issue is that even if this is true, it ignores the large amount of workers making lower than this, i.e., unlivable wages. This can be observed as to what’s happening now, right my own local Stop & Shop on West River Street Providence, Rhode Island. In fact, it wasn’t even too long ago where workers were picketing right here. What’s currently happening is that for the past year or so, customers are greeted at the entrances and exits with large advertisements to work there. The large signs advertise good benefits, and over the intercom you can even occasionally hear that working at Stop & Shop is geared towards family and is a rewarding career.

So, if this is all true, why then, next to the the glorified signs and under the pleasant voice of the intercoms, their application flyers advertise as paying $14 per hour? This is in a state where a livable wage is substantially higher. What happened to Ms. Brogan’s comment about staff making over $20? How does one make a career if they’re forced to sleep on the streets unable to afford rent with no physical address? Frustrated seeing this, I wrote to corporate and I eventually received a response from Aaron Allison, whom I presume is one of the local managers as per their email signature. Long story short, their responses were both shocking and downright ignorant of the implications of these wages.

Initially, they requested a call but wanting to get responses in writing, I asked for exchanges via email (you can find the full email exchange below). Their responses were stubborn, leaning back on the fact that they pay slightly higher than the already severely low minimum wage, even going as to far to mention the union and how they agreed to this. What was most frustrating was their response, “… it is a minimum wage for entry level workers, what earns people more money is hard work, experience and dedication. Without that people are probably not going to make what they want too anywhere.”

Aside from the fact that Americans are working more hours than ever before for lower wages and less benefits, the old school thinking of “work hard, earn more” is inarguably incorrect and fallacious. What’s more concerning is that if management at Stop & Shop holds these toxic beliefs, I worry only incompetence will be bred when trying to understand worker needs.

The solution is simple. Seeing as to how this Stop & Shop had been hiring for the same wage for the past several months, I would first advise to increase the wage. Not just enough to get a few people in the door, but enough to actually live on. The staff and workers at Stop & Shop are often some of the friendliest people around and frankly, it pains me knowing many of them don’t have a home to go to at night. I implore Stop & Shop to enter the 21st century and embrace livable wages should the chain want to survive from the millions lost from potential future strikes and to appeal to the younger, more worker-supportive generations.

* Union representatives were unable to comment.

Update July 15, 2023. On my visit to this location, the flyers advertising this wage had been removed.

Stop & Shop empty table.

Screenshot of email exchange of Aaron Allison of Stop & Shop Rhode Island.
Screenshot of email exchange of Aaron Allison of Stop & Shop Rhode Island.
Screenshot of email exchange of Aaron Allison of Stop & Shop Rhode Island.
Screenshot of email exchange of Aaron Allison of Stop & Shop Rhode Island.
Screenshot of email exchange of Aaron Allison of Stop & Shop Rhode Island.

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