NEWSWATCH

UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION, LOCAL 7, Denver, said here last week its members had overwhelmingly approved a five-year contract with Denver-area stores operated by Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif. Negotiations between Safeway and the union had broken off in late June and weren't resumed until the arrival of Jim Mahan, a commissioner with the Federal Mediation and Reconciliation Service, Washington.

UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION, LOCAL 7, Denver, said here last week its members had overwhelmingly approved a five-year contract with Denver-area stores operated by Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif. Negotiations between Safeway and the union had broken off in late June and weren't resumed until the arrival of Jim Mahan, a commissioner with the Federal Mediation and Reconciliation Service, Washington. In a 14-hour bargaining session July 7, two days before union members were scheduled to vote on a contract the union's bargaining unit had recommended rejecting, union and management created the proposal Local 7R's membership approved July 9. "The approval of the settlement assures five years of labor peace, and we are pleased it has been approved," said Debra Lambert, a spokeswoman for the supermarket chain. "The offer was fair for both the company and our employees." Local 7R declined to comment on the terms of the settlement.

n members and annual sales of about $4 billion, operates 10 discount stores averaging 110,000 square feet, with about 12% of space devoted to groceries; it also operates three appliance and furniture centers.

THE SALE OF of 24 Schwegmann Giant Super Markets in New Orleans by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court is under way, with a local independent -- Robert Fresh Market, a two-store operator -- picking up four stores and the right to operate a fifth, and A&P, Montvale, N.J., getting court approval to acquire one unit so far. A&P declined comment last week on the status of the six stores for which it had signed a definitive agreement less a month before Schwegmann decided to file for Chapter 11 relief last March -- a deal that was put on hold after the bankruptcy filing.

A BILL calling for a 23% national sales tax to replace all federal income, payroll and other taxes was introduced Wednesday in the House. The tax plan is one pushed in the last two years by Houston-based Americans for Fair Taxation.

THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION, Washington, last week gave the United States the green light to impose 100% import duties on $116.8 million worth of European gourmet food items, in retaliation for the European Union's ban on the importation of U.S. beef treated with hormones. The WTO authorization is less than the $202 million retaliation level the United States had sought in making its case with the trade organization. Trade sources here said they expect the United States will issue a so-called hit list of European products subject to 100% duties this month. Duties at this level amount make it economically impractical to import goods.

THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE last week approved an $864 billion tax-cut package that included elimination of the federal estate tax. Elimination of the tax has become a goal of Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas. Archer's plan calls for phasing out the estate tax over 10 years.

Approval of the tax package is the first step in a contentious process involving taxes.