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Former VP Joe Biden To Speak At Rally In Support Of Stop & Shop Workers On Strike

NORTH ANDOVER (CBS/AP) -- Stop & Shop employees in North Andover stood in a picket line Tuesday morning as they entered day six of the strike. Negotiations are continuing between the union and the corporation with the help of federal mediators.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will speak at a rally Thursday in Dorchester in support of the workers who have been on strike since April 11.

Stop & Shop workers on strike in North Andover waved to passing cars Tuesday morning (WBZ-TV)

The union said the disagreement is over wages, health care, and retirement benefits.

"It's worrisome, of course it is, but we have to do what we have to do," said Stop & Shop worker Timothy Bull.

Worker Sharon Wondrasch said, "We're not asking for crazy benefits, we're just asking to be treated fairly."

Stop & Shop said providing comprehensive healthcare for qualifying employees continues to be part of their offer.

On Twitter, a day after the strike began, Biden said the supermarket's plan to cut employee wages and benefits "is wrong."

Workers in North Andover hope an agreement can be reached before the weekend.

"We want to be in there. Especially for the Easter holiday, that's where we need to be," said Bull.

Stop & Shop is acknowledging that it has limited its offerings during the strike affecting 240 supermarkets in New England and is apologizing to customers for the inconvenience.

The 30,000 workers on strike have seen support from various politicians over the last several days. U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark stopped at a store in Malden.

On Monday, U.S. Reps. Joe Kennedy and Bill Keating joined workers in Fall River. Sen. Ed Markey brought pizza to a store in Quincy. Sen. Elizabeth Warren visited a Somerville store on Friday to drop off donuts and cheer on the workers.

People are still crossing the picket line, though.

Bruins legend Ray Bourque was among the many to get an earful for doing so at the North Andover location. He has since apologized and said he plans to join the picket line when he can.

"He apologized and we appreciate that," said UFCW business agent Elaine O'Neil. "We will welcome him with open arms."

At a Reading Stop & Shop Tuesday night, customers were few and far between, but at the neighboring Market Basket, business is booming.

"When you see all these people standing there saying, 'don't shop, don't shop,' you have to feel bad for them, you really have to," said Harry Yessaian, of Wakefield.

Terry Kaszynski of Lynnfield, a loyal Market Basket customer, went to the Stop & Shop for a good deal on soda, but turned around after chatting with workers.

"Consequently I feel guilty coming here," Kaszynski said. "Because of crossing a picket line. They should probably get the higher wages and not have benefits taken away."

Stop & Shop President Mark McGowan said in a letter Tuesday that most stores will remain open for 12 hours, seven days a week. However, he says bakery, customer service, deli, seafood counters and gas stations will not be operational. Stop & Shop also says additional police and security personnel are at some stores as a precaution.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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