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Truckers for Shaw's, Star Market go on strike in New England

Truck drivers and mechanics for Shaw's supermarkets represented by the Teamsters went on strike Monday, stopping shipments to Shaw's and Star Market grocery stores in New England.

The drivers are responsible for delivering grocery staples to more than 100 supermarkets across the region, said Joe Piccone, business agent for Teamsters Local 340 in South Portland. Fruit, vegetables and refrigerated items are handled by a separate facility in Methuen, Massachusetts, he said.

"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," he said. The workers are still waiting for the revised offer from the company, he said.

Shaw's, which is owned by Idaho-based Albertson's Companies, issued a statement saying the supermarket chain bargained in good faith and looks forward to returning to negotiations later this week.

The company said it has participated in about 20 sessions, including some with a federal mediator, since last August. The company said its current proposal was never brought to the membership for a vote.

Piccone said the lack of a contract is a slap in the face of drivers who toiled away 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."


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Bernie Sanders, ex-lawmaker Booker attend Kentucky rally

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders attended a rally Sunday with former Kentucky state Rep. Charles Booker, who is considering another run for the U.S. Senate.

The "Rally for Kentucky's Working Class" was held outside the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville.

Booker, a Democrat whose unabashedly progressive campaign in Kentucky came up just short in last year's Senate primary, is forming an exploratory committee as he weighs a follow-up race in 2022 against Republican incumbent Sen. Rand Paul.

Sanders thanked Booker "not just for being here today but for showing this state and this country what grassroots activism can mean. And despite being heavily outspent, Charles ran a campaign that the whole country looked at and I have a feeling that the next time around, the results are going to be different."

Last year, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell trounced well-funded Democratic challenger Amy McGrath, who narrowly defeated Booker in the state's Democratic primary.

"I got a little bit of nostalgia here standing on this stage," Booker, a Black former state lawmaker, told the crowd Sunday. "We were starting to tell a story, and I think we're not done telling that story, if you understand what I'm saying."

Booker seized momentum late in last year's Democratic Senate primary on the strength of a "Hood to the Holler" campaign that highlighted the common interests of Black Democrats in the cities and middle- and low-income white people in the mountains of eastern Kentucky.

"We're here today not to just rally for the sake of feeling good, but to get ready for the work that comes after we leave here," Booker said.

-- The Associated Press