SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Picket lines are up at Stop and Shop stores in western Massachusetts and across souther New England.

Unionized employees walked out just after 1 p.m. Thursday in protest over stalled contract negotiations.

Earlier today, Stop and Shop corporate representatives and the five local unions that represent New England food service workers held their latest meeting to negotiate a contract.

However, when they could not come to terms, the decision to strike was made.

Early Thursday afternoon, Stop and Shops across southern New Englad were forced to close their doors when employees walked out over unsuccessful union contract negotiations.

"Our union rep, Terry, came around and said 'Okay guys, we're walking out.' We had been prepared for it, so we wrapped up our last customers and put away last minute items and we walked out," said employee Amanda Tobin, who has worked at Stop and Shop for eight years.

Approximately 140 Stop and Shops in New England were impacted by this strike.

In Holyoke, employees made a picket line and in Springfield, it was a similar scene.

Stop and Shop issued this statement to Western Mass News regarding the strike: "Stop & Shop remains ready and available to meet with the union locals at any time. We are committed to good faith bargaining and hope to reach new contracts as quickly as possible that both recognize and reward the great work of our associates and enable Stop & Shop to compete effectively in the rapidly changing New England grocery market."

As far as the unions are concerned though, this strike will go on until further notice

"Absolutely, I’ll be out here every day I’m scheduled," Tobin noted.

Picket lines are also set up at Stop and Shop stores in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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