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    Kroger, Houston/Dallas UFCW Locals Ink New Labor Deals

    CINCINNATI - While union members in Kroger's California stores along with employees of two other grocery chains voted to authorize a strike, employees of the Houston and Dallas divisions of the nation's largest supermarket operator ratified a new three-year labor agreement.

    CINCINNATI - While union members in Kroger's California stores along with employees of two other grocery chains voted to authorize a strike, employees of the Houston and Dallas divisions of the nation's largest supermarket operator ratified a new three-year labor agreement.

    Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 408 and 455 in Houston and Local 540 in Dallas signed off on the new deal that covers more than 13,000 Kroger associates at 202 stores in the Dallas and Houston metropolitan areas.

    Officials at Kroger, based here, said the new contract, which provides wage increases and affordable quality health care benefits for associates and their families and also includes a pension plan, "is the best in the Texas retail food industry."

    "This agreement provides a very good total compensation package for our associates and their families and helps to make Kroger more competitive in the marketplace," said Bill Breetz, president of Kroger's Southwest Division, which includes Kroger stores in Texas and Louisiana. "This is a perfect example of how fair and balanced agreements can be reached when the Union and company leadership stay focused and committed to negotiating at the bargaining table."

    Kroger also provided a letter of commitment which guarantees adequate resources in the health and welfare fund, in addition to which the company promises to add up to $1.4 million if necessary. The level of funding in the health and welfare fund was one of the primary concerns for workers during contract negotiations.

    "Workers are pleased with the contract," said Chad Young, UFCW International v.p./region director. "We're certain that the funding will be secure for quality, affordable health care." Throughout the negotiations process, Young said UFCW members demonstrated solidarity and strength in bargaining for a fair contract.

    Kroger operates 2,468 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banners.

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