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SEATTLE - Twenty-five thousand grocery workers have agreed to work another week under a contract that was supposed to expire two months ago, according to published reports. The United Food and Commercial Workers union and supermarket chains Albertsons, Safeway, and Kroger-owned QFC and Fred Meyer decided Friday, after four days of negotiations, to extend the contract until Thursday and to reconvene Wednesday and Thursday.
In a joint statement, both sides said, "While discussions are slow due to the challenging nature of some key issues, enough progress was made this week to continue negotiations." A federal mediator joined the negotiations at the time of the June 24 and 25 talks.
Contract negotiations began in April. The primary issue is health care, with the companies maintaining that they can't pay skyrocketing health expenses costs anymore and must shift some of the burden onto employees. while the unions hold that the supermarkets would make premiums too costly, especially part-time workers.