(WFSB) - Striking workers at Stop & Shops across southern New England continued to picket on Friday.

Union workers at all 90 Connecticut stores went on strike Thursday.

"A lot of customers, potential customers, come by and see us honk the horns and then drive off," said Steven Blank of Vernon. "You have a few that come in and just need their groceries and stuff and it’s fair. Everybody has freedom of choice."

Channel 3 was the first station to inform viewers.

Nearly 31,000 workers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island hit the picket line at 1 p.m. on Thursday.

They said their fight is over healthcare benefits.

The UFCW union said its workers have seen the benefits be reduced while the cost of healthcare rises.

"It would be very nice if we could settle this and have a fair contract," said Brian Bourbonniere, Stop & Shop worker.

"We really want to pretty much maintain the benefits we currently have," said Carlos Neves, Stop & Shop worker.

Meanwhile, Stop & Shop said it gave the workers a reasonable offer, including across-the-board raises and health and pension benefits.

Many stores remained open on Thursday and some shoppers said they were startled when they didn't see anyone at the deli or meat counters, the registers or roaming the aisles.

With no one to retrieve them, the shopping carts piled up in the parking lots.

See photos of the strike from across the state here.

"There are a lot of single moms that work here, that work two jobs and really their paychecks are week to week and those are the people hurt the most," said employee Jeff Adams.

Inside the store, some of the shelves are in disarray. The counters at the fish, meat and deli department are empty, and workers are prepared to keep it that way. 

Workers are now sending customers away, pointing them in the director of their competitors. 

"I specifically came here tonight because of that. Yeah, I drove by and they're all picketing out in front of the side of the streets," said Joe Antonios of Middlebury. 

LaBonne's Market in Watertown had to add more staff to keep up with the demand. 

"Yesterday I got called in early. We had other people called in. We had five registers going, five baggers and that's like a holiday for us," said Sara Levasseur, Closing Supervisor at LaBonne's Market. 

Many stores said they'll have reduced hours because of the strike.

However, there are some sections of the stores that are not affected by it.

If a store has a People's Bank inside, the bank should be open.

The pharmacy should also be open.

Stop & Shop said Peapod deliveries should not be impacted.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(3) comments

Careylou

Big Y was sure busy today

jasper

why should part time grocery workers get pensions?

Truthseeker

This is the affect of the state over taxing. If they could control their own spending and stop putting money in their corrupt pockets, then business could afford to pay employee's a fair salary and those people would be able to live off that salary. The guilty part here is the state of CT and anyone who voted for Lamont!

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