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    California Chains and Union to Resume Talks April 16

    LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Talks between Albertsons, Ralphs, Vons, and the grocery workers union representing their Southern California workers will resume April 16 in an effort to avoid a work stoppage.

    LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Talks between Albertsons, Ralphs, Vons, and the grocery workers union representing their Southern California workers will resume April 16 in an effort to avoid a work stoppage.

    An earlier round of negotiations between the United Food and Commercial Workers union ended abruptly last Wednesday, following the signing and release of an agreement by the trio of chains that said if the union orders a selective strike against one of the chains, the other two would lock out employees within 48 hours. The companies also agreed to provide financial assistance to chains with employees who walk out.

    The union negotiators walked out on talks after that. But on Thursday, union reps said they would return to the table on April 16.

    A contract extension is scheduled to expire on Monday, after which it will renew automatically each day, although either side can terminate it with 72 hours notice.

    The union wants the chains to agree to end a two-tier wage and benefit system under which new hires can't achieve the same compensation as longer-term employees.

    The UFCW and the chains have been involved in contract talks since January. The supermarket's current three-year deal covers 65,000 workers at 785 stores from San Luis Obispo and Bakersfield south to San Diego. Observers said last week that even if talks break down permanently, a strike was not likely for several weeks.

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