The strike against Stop & Shop by union workers region-wide continues and the community is being pressured to take sides. Most folks have stayed away just to avoid the possibility of trouble. In other words, they don't want to be involved and they don't want to risk having their car door keyed for crossing a picket line.

Workers who have walked off the job have done so of their own accord. They may or may not have a legitimate beef with the company. Both sides have issued statements in an effort to win the hearts and the minds of area shoppers. I suspect the reality of all of this lies somewhere in between the two stated positions.

Striking workers must understand that this is their fight. While there are those who would never cross a picket line under any circumstances, some will continue to visit Stop & Shop. Keep in mind, shopping elsewhere might not be an easy option for everyone, particularly if they live in an area that doesn't have another market nearby. Others rely on the Stop & Shop pharmacy or the bank located inside the market. Still others simply do not support the job action for whatever reason.

When employees went on strike at Market Basket several years ago, striking workers did not attempt to interfere with the free flow of customers to the stores. Those who chose to shop there for whatever reason were not intimidated by the strikers. The unions representing Stop & Shop strikers could learn something from that. After all, these customers will be important once all of this is over.

I will not cross the Stop & Shop picket line. I don't regularly shop there, so I would have no reason to cross the picket line. I don't like that avoiding Stop & Shop is expected of me because someone else has a beef with the company. I did shop at Market Basket during their job action and took the time to discuss it with friends and acquaintances that worked there. Some understood and some didn't.

To most people who do the shopping, settling upon a supermarket is like finding the perfect fitting pair of jeans or comfortable shoes. You know where everything is, how much it costs and you come to know some of the folks who work there. Suddenly being forced to change the routine can be very disruptive to some. After a while, customer loyalty to the strikers will wane.

Even worse, some customers might settle into a new routine and not return to Stop & Shop when the picket lines come down.

The striking workers must understand and respect whatever decisions are made by the customer base. They didn't ask for this disruption and should not be forced to pay the price for it. The company owes it to its workers and its customers to attempt to resolve this dispute as quickly as possible.

Both sides have a responsibility to get back to work while hammering out a new agreement at the bargaining table.

No one will benefit from a prolonged strike

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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