Metro

Striking Stop & Shop workers leave picket site outside Conn. store after shooting threat

A man called in a threat Thursday to shoot striking Stop & Shop workers with an AK-47 as the employees picketed in front of their store in Wethersfield, Conn., police said. No one was injured.

In a statement posted to Facebook, the Wethersfield Police Department provided details of the disturbing incident.

“On Thursday April 18, 2019 at 6:05 PM the store manager from Stop and Shop, 1380 Berlin Turnpike in Wethersfield called the Wethersfield Police Department to report that the store just received a suspicious phone call that was threatening in nature,” the statement said.

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Police said the manager told officers that “an unidentified male subject called the store and asked if the employees were still picketing in front of the store. After the manager stated that the employees were still in front of the store, the male stated he was coming to the store to shoot them with an AK-47. All of the picketing employees that were outside were immediately brought into the store to safeguard them. The store was closed to the public.”

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Police flooded the area, according to the release.

“Numerous Wethersfield Police Officers immediately responded to the store,” the statement said. “There were no injuries nor any acts of violence at this scene.”

The matter remains under investigation.

“Detectives from the Wethersfield Police Department are investigating this incident,” the release said. “Any persons who may have information regarding this incident are asked to please contact the Wethersfield Police Department at (860) 721-2901.”

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The threatened employees were among 31,000 unionized Stop & Shop workers who walked off the job last week in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The strike is ongoing.

The standoff is largely over rising health care costs. The company has proposed workers pay more toward their insurance, noting that Stop & Shop would still cover 92 percent of premiums for family coverage, a much larger portion than other large retailers pay.

The $2 to $4 annual increase in weekly health care costs for employees would still keep workers’ costs below the national average, the company said. Stop & Shop has also proposed limiting coverage for spouses who can get health insurance from their own employer.

Stop & Shop said it is also offering wage increases and increased pension contributions for current workers. Average hourly pay is $21.30, according to Stop & Shop, with front-end clerks averaging $15.90, while other line workers make in the $18 to $20 range.

But the union has called the store’s proposals “smoke and mirrors” that would hurt current employees and new hires.

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The company’s proposal would cost a full-time employee an additional $893 in weekly health care premiums over three years, the union said, reduce pension benefits for many part-timers and new hires, remove 1,000 employees’ spouses off health insurance, and eliminate time-and-a-half pay on Sundays and holidays for new part-timers.

Katie Johnston of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.