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Tentative Agreement Averts California Strike

LOS ANGELES — A possible strike was averted here Monday morning as seven Southern California locals of United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the three major chains reached a tentative agreement after a 26-hour bargaining session.

With the UFCW set to recommend approval, the 62,000 members of the locals are scheduled to vote Friday and Saturday.

The original contract expired March 6 and had been extended until last Thursday, when the union gave the employers a 72-hour advance cancellation notice. That led to the round-the-clock bargaining session.

Asked why the two sides were finally able to reach an agreement after six months of talking, Greg Conger, a UFCW executive, told SN, "I don't know. It should not have taken this long.

"But our goal was to save the affordable health care plan our members had — including funding through the life of the new contract — and through the process of give-and-take, we were able to save the plan, though with some changes."

He declined to discuss specifics of the agreement.

In a joint statement, Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons said, "We are pleased to have reached a tentative settlement agreement with the union that continues to preserve good wages [and] secure[s] pensions and access to quality, affordable health care while allowing us to be competitive in the marketplace."

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