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California

Grocers, Union Talks Expected to Run Through Weekend

February 14, 2004|Nancy Cleeland

Negotiations to end the California supermarket strike and lockout continued through the day Friday and were expected to run through the weekend, according to John Arnold, a spokesman for federal mediator Peter J. Hurtgen, who is overseeing the talks.

Arnold declined to characterize the tone of the talks but said the continuation to a fourth day was a positive sign. Spokespeople for the grocery chains and union would not comment, citing Hurtgen's request for a media blackout.

In mid-October, the United Food and Commercial Workers union launched a strike against Safeway Inc.-owned Vons and Pavilions stores. Kroger Co.-owned Ralphs and Albertsons Inc. locked out their union workers the next day.

The strike was called over the employers' proposal to reduce health benefits and create a permanent lower wage scale for new hires. The companies have said they needed the concessions to compete with nonunion grocers.

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-- Nancy Cleeland

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