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Schnucks workers reject offer, authorize strike

Union workers at Schnucks Markets late Monday voted to reject a contract offer, and authorized leaders to call a strike.

The vote does not indicate a strike is imminent; United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 said it intended to continue bargaining with the St. Louis-based retailer. The existing agreement calls for five days notice of a strike.

Local 655 said 89% of the more than 2,000 members at at a meeting Monday voted the reject the deal, an outcome that was not unexpected given the recommendation of a rejection from union leaders before the vote. The union Monday published a marked-up copy of the offer outlining its dissatisfaction with the proposals, which it said include a reduction of 133 full-time jobs, the elimination of certain schedule guarantees for part time workers, and cuts in health care coverage for part-timers. Schnucks employs approximately 4,500 union workers.

The union has been negotiating jointly with Schnucks, Deirbergs and Supervalu-owned Shop 'n Save but scheduled the vote for Schnucks separately. All three retailers criticized the union for recommending the "no" vote prior to releasing details of the Schnucks' proposal to members. Schnucks said its offer provided wage and pension increases but also reflected the need from relief from "unrelenting competitive pressures" from non-union competitors.

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