During an 11-day strike of employees in Stop & Shops throughout New England that ended over the weekend, the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project, or YHHAP, offered Yalies free rides to alternative supermarkets to give them the opportunity to simultaneously buy affordable food and support the strike’s cause.
The strike began on April 11 when Stop & Shop workers walked out of the supermarkets in response to the lack of concessions on the company’s side during their contract renegotiations. The 31,000 workers across 240 stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut protested the company’s new automation proposals and overall poor wages. During the strike, the stores limited their services, operating for only 12 hours a day instead of their regular 17 hours a day and temporarily closing their bakeries, delis, seafood providers, customer service and gas stations.
On Sunday, the grocery store chain announced that it had reached a tentative agreement with the local unions representing its employees. The current tentative three-year agreements between Stop & Shop and workers includes increased pay, health care coverage and retirement benefits.
In a statement released this past Friday, YHHAP condemned “the company’s practices of unlivable wages and benefits” but acknowledged that many community members often exclusively shop at Stop & Shop, since it is the only grocery store chain in New Haven. To help more people stand in solidarity with the strike without an undue financial burden, YHHAP offered grocery runs for Yale and New Haven residents, taking them to other supermarkets in Dwight Hall cars.
Annie Cheng ’20, a YHHAP coordinator, said that some New Haveners and Yalies may have been unable to afford to take an Uber to go to a different store. The grocery runs were an attempt by YHHAP to get more involved in responding to community issues. Cheng said that although this was “a very small service,” it “made a difference.”
“We, as YHHAP, are trying to make an effort to help not just food insecure New Haveners but also food insecure Yalies,” Cheng said. “The YHHAP initiative is an example of what community activism can accomplish.”
Cheng said that Yalies have a duty to respect New Haven workers and stand in solidarity with them when this chain mistreats “our neighbors.”
Other students interviewed by the News shared this sentiment.
“Parts of New Haven are very disadvantaged compared to Yale and we get so many opportunities,” said Ignacio Diaz Pascual ’22. “In many ways, it’s not our city as it is the city of the residents who live here and so because we have the opportunity to be here for four years and use the resources this city offers, we have an obligation to give back.”
Cheng said that in light of a surge of community activism at Yale, YHHAP hopes to play a more active role in community action.
This Friday, YHHAP will host its semiannual fast.
Kelly Wei | firstname.lastname@example.org