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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1059, representing about 10,000 employees at 82 Kroger locations in central Ohio, have voted to go on strike if an agreement can't be reached on a contract with the chain.
According to published reports, the old contract, which expired Saturday, has been extended by 10 additional days. As in many other recent labor disputes, health insurance costs are the sticking point, with Kroger wanting workers to contribute to their health care, while the UFCW says the employees can't afford major benefit changes.
The vote showed that members supported striking by a wide margin, said Local 1059 President Becky Berroyer. Of 3,568 votes cast, just 111 were opposed to a strike, she noted.
Kroger said that in the past five years, under the current contract, its health care expenses have more than doubled, to $41 million annually. A spokeswoman expressed the retailer's belief that an agreement would soon be reached, preventing a strike.