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Raley's, Safeway, Save Mart, and union leaders representing 52,000 grocery clerks and butchers in Northern California have extended the contract deadline to December 15 to avoid a showdown during the week of Thanksgiving.
The original contract would have run out Saturday night.
Representatives of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 5 (Western Northern California including the Bay Area), Local 8 (Central and Eastern Northern California) and Local 648 (San Francisco Clerks) have been in talks with the grocers for over two months over wages and medical costs, and the impact of non-union competition.
"The issues facing the unionized grocery industry in Northern California are varied and serious," said Ron Lind, president of UFCW Local 5. "It would be a disservice to the members and the public to take action without first looking at every conceivable angle to reach a deal that meets the needs of our members, ensures the viability of our employers and does not unnecessarily inconvenience the shopping public."
According to published reports, Raley's and the other unionized grocers are trying to reduce costs in the face of nonunion supermarkets and Wal-Mart entering their markets. Safeway also cited increased non-union competition as a challenge, as well as rising medical costs, and said the chain is looking for a resolution that satisfies all parties.