EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 9, 2010

Four-month Shaw's strike is over; union ratifies new contract

METHUEN — A four-month strike marked by several violent incidents and arrests ended peacefully yesterday when workers at the Shaw's distribution center ratified a new contract.

"The picket lines came down today and the strike is over," said Peter Derouen, spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 791, which represents more than 300 Shaw's workers at the Danton Drive facility.

"It's been a long, tough haul. We're looking to moving forward and putting this behind us and getting our people back to work. But I'm very proud of the resolve the men displayed over the past 17 weeks during some of the most difficult times," Derouen said.

The strike officially ended in its 18th week in a conference room at the Day's Hotel and Conference Center where members voted 171 to 37 to accept the contract, according to Derouen.

The Methuen Distribution Center distributes meat, dairy products and produce to all 176 Shaw's Supermarkets and Star Markets in New England.

Shaw's officials and the union disclosed few details of the contract, but issued a joint statement announcing the settlement after the union completed its vote at 5 p.m.

"Associates at the Shaw's Methuen (Mass.) distribution center have ratified a mediator-recommended settlement agreement, ending the strike that began March 7," the two sides said in their statement.

"The four-year contract continues Shaw's long-standing history of providing good wages, comprehensive and affordable health care and a generous retirement plan. It also allows the company to operate more efficiently and address changing business conditions in a very competitive marketplace. Both sides are committed to working together to meet the needs of the business and its customers," it concluded.

Shaw's spokeswoman Rebekah Fawcett said the pact is comparable to the one proposed by the company at the beginning of the strike.

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