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.
-- Nancy Cleeland