Grocery workers at Stop & Shop went on strike over wages and health care in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut on Thursday. Over 31,000 employees reached out to union leaders to initiate the strike.

“The men and women who make Stop & Shop a success have earned and deserve affordable health care, a good wage, and the ability to retire with dignity,” the leaders of five locals said in an emailed statement, reports Time magazine. “They have earned and deserve a good job that allows them to do what they do best: provide the very best customer service for New England communities.”

In a statement posted on its website, Stop & Strike stated that it was disappointed with the strike since contract negotiations are ongoing with the assistance of federal mediators.

Some of the employees who took part in the strike were United Food & Commercial Workers union members, and they walked off the job. Some of them picketed outside the stores.

According to the unions, Stop & Shop is demanding “unreasonable” wage and benefit cuts.

strike Chicago Teachers Union members picket outside of the Chicago Public School headquarters on the fourth day of their strike in Chicago on Sept. 13, 2012. Photo: REUTERS