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    Stop & Shop, Union Keep Talking

    QUINCY, Mass. - Stop & Shop and union negotiators talked into the weekend, and will resume negotiations today to head off a strike threatening to hit the chain's stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

    QUINCY, Mass. - Stop & Shop and union negotiators talked into the weekend, and will resume negotiations today to head off a strike threatening to hit the chain's stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

    The grocer, based here, said in a statement on Saturday that talked are scheduled through Wednesday with five UFCW locals, "and the unions have committed to no job action while talks are ongoing."

    The chain added that "progress has been made on important issues and some difficult issues remain."

    The paramount issue at contention is the company's plan to change its health insurance program to include employee contributions. Currently, Stop & Shop covers 100 percent of health insurance costs.

    Wages increases and a proposal to change a defined benefit pension plan to a 401K for new hires.are also part of the negotiations.

    Union officials have said support for a strike was strong should talks not render an agreement.

    Stop & Shop, owned by Netherlands-based Ahold Royal, operates more than 360 stores throughout New England, New York and New Jersey.

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