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    Grocers, Union Talks Set to Resume

    SAN FRANCISCO - The union representing striking Southern California grocery workers and three big U.S. supermarket chains are expected to resume talks on Tuesday, officials announced Saturday.

    SAN FRANCISCO - The union representing striking Southern California grocery workers and three big U.S. supermarket chains are expected to resume talks on Tuesday, officials announced Saturday.

    Barbara Maynard, a spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, told Reuters that the union would work around the clock to preserve health care benefits for its 1.4 million members across the nation.

    A previous round of talks between the parties ended a week ago.

    At the heart of the labor dispute, about to enter its eighth week, are plans by Safeway Inc., Kroger Co., and Albertsons Inc. to cut employee health care benefits through measures like requiring workers to pay higher insurance co-payments.

    The three grocers say workers should start sharing health care expenses so they can better compete with nonunion rivals such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

    Although the financial impact of the strike on the supermarkets' profit is not yet known, the effect of the dispute has hit regional groups, including the Salvation Army.

    The international charity said the strike had resulted in fewer patrons at grocery stores and led to put fewer red kettles -- in which store patrons can make put donations -- in front of stores.

    "At this point we are estimating that if things do not change that a minimum of $600,000 will be lost in donations in Southern California," said Carla Jackson, a Los Angeles-based spokeswoman for the Salvation Army.

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