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QUEENS VILLAGE, N.Y. -- While unionized Stop & Shop and Pathmark employees in the New York area have begun preparing for a strike after their contracts expire on Saturday night, King Kullen has decided to negotiate separately for a new four-year contract with 23,000 workers, according to a published report.
"We are hopeful that the union will be able to reach a tentative agreement with King Kullen prior to Saturday's expiration date," Patrick Purcel, organizing director for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, told the Long Island Business News. "Unfortunately, we remain very pessimistic and are preparing for a job action at Pathmark and Stop & Shop."
Despite the union's comments, statements from Stop & Shop and King Kullen expressed the companies' hope of a settlement before the Saturday deadline. Stop & Shop noted that its negotiations with the union were still continuing.
Last week, union members unanimously voted in favor of strikes at all three companies if negotiations failed.
The main issue in dispute is the reduction of Sunday pay for newly hired workers, according to the union, which says that in the course of negotiations it has offered $16 million in health care concessions and agreed to reduce pension payouts.
If a strike or lockout occurs, the union will launch an information campaign so shoppers are aware of which stores have signed deals. In addition, other unions, such as the Teamsters, would probably refuse to cross the picket line, said Purcell.