BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Hundreds of union members gathered for a rally in the parking lot of the South Bay Stop & Shop Thursday afternoon, where former Vice President Joe Biden spoke to striking workers.
Biden addressed the grocery chain employees—now in their seventh day of a walkout to demand better wages and benefits—from the back of a Teamsters flatbed truck.
"I'm getting so sick and tired of the way everybody's being treated, our American workers, that I've had it up to here like a lot of you have," Biden told the crowd. "I know you're used to hearing political speeches and I'm a politician, I get it—but this is way beyond that ... This is wrong, this is morally wrong what's going on around this country. I've had enough of it, I'm sick of it, and so are you."
He said the crowd of working people reminded him of the people in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
"What's happening here is, workers are not being treated across the board with dignity, they're not being treated like they matter," Biden said. "And let me get something straight with you all. Wall Street bankers and CEOs did not build America. You built America. We built America. Ordinary middle-class people built America. That's not hyperbole, that's just a simple fact."
The former VP and 2020 presidential hopeful was joined by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Sen. Ed Markey, and State Treasurer Deb Goldberg.
"You are what has made Stop & Shop the success that it has become—it is not the corporate officials, it is you, the workers!" Markey told the rally. "Stop & Shop's parent company should be ashamed of proposing drastic and unreasonable cuts to benefits and take-home pay for the UFCW workers. They want to replace real customer service with more serve yourself checkout machines."
Mayor Walsh told the workers they are vital to the city's economy.
"Don't cross the line!" he chanted, urging the public to support the strikers by not crossing their picket line.
One local union set up a huge inflatable pig wearing a suit and top hat and smoking a cigar, saying it represented the corporate greed of Stop & Shop's owners.
Teamsters Local 25 head Sean O'Brien announced at the rally that his union would contribute $25,000 to the Stop & Shop Strike Benefit Fund.
Some 31,000 Stop & Shop employees are striking to demand a living wage, pensions, and better healthcare. Stop & Shop says it is offering them a fair deal. Their last contract expired February 23.
WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports