QUINCY — Tension continues to rise as the contract between Stop & Shop Supermarket Company and the five United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) local unions expired on Saturday at midnight and no agreement has been reached.

Negotiations over employee pay and benefits have been ongoing between the Quincy-based supermarket chain and the band of local unions representing over 30,000 Stop & Shop union members, including UFCW Local 328 in Providence, which represents workers at the five Stop & Shop supermarkets in New Bedford, Dartmouth, Fairhaven and Wareham.

The other four local unions involved in negotiations are UFCW Local 1445 in Boston; UFCW Local 371 in Westport, Connecticut; UFCW Local 1459 in Springfield and UFCW Local 919 in Farmington, Connecticut.

A joint statement was released at midnight to union members from the presidents of the five local unions, calling out Stop & Shop for “waging an economic war against its workers” and “refusing to honor employees’ value and worth.”

“Stop & Shop has known for the past 3 years that our contract was set to expire on February 23rd.  But because of their continued corporate greed throughout these negotiations, Stop & Shop employees and customers now find themselves in a position where job actions may take place,” read the statement.

“Despite being the number one supermarket operator in New England and its parent company, Ahold Delhaize, seeing $74 billion in net sales last year, Stop & Shop negotiators have only proposed cuts to workers benefits and take-home pay while increasing automation that will cause job loss. UFCW maintains that Stop & Shop workers work hard every day to make their stores profitable and have earned and deserve a share in that success. Furthermore, multi-million-dollar store renovations and great customer service cannot happen without a workforce that is both valued and respected.”

UFCW Local 1445 will be the first of the five locals to hold a strike authorization vote with a meeting between its members and Local President Jeff Bollen on Sunday.  If passed, a strike authorization will allow the local to call for a strike of its Stop & Shop members at any time. Currently, all five UFCW locals are asking their members to continue working as negotiations proceed.

Another statement from the local presidents was posted to the official Facebook page of UFCW Local 328 on Saturday night, accusing Stop & Shop of being “the number one supermarket operator in New England,” while the company says its not-competitive in the market.

“At the table, after proposing drastic cuts to your benefits, the lead negotiator for Stop & Shop told us not to ‘begrudge the company’ for making a profit. That tells us exactly what Stop & Shop thinks of its workers,” the statement said.

“Stop & Shop has known for the past 3 years that our contract was set to expire on February 23rd. But because of their continued corporate greed throughout these negotiations, Stop & Shop employees and customers now find themselves in a position where job actions may take place.”

Employees at Stop & Shop branches represented by UFCW Local 328 did not respond to questions regarding the possibility strikes occurring at area branches.