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    Calif. Union, Grocers Adjourn Talks Without Reaching Deal

    LOS ANGELES - Negotiators for supermarket chains and their union employees ended three days of talks Wednesday without reaching an agreement, The Associated Press reports.

    LOS ANGELES - Negotiators for supermarket chains and their union employees ended three days of talks Wednesday without reaching an agreement, The Associated Press reports.

    The federal mediator who organized the meetings called them "useful" but did not say when talks would resume.

    "The parties have issues and matters to reflect upon, and I will be in touch with them in the days ahead," Peter J. Hurtgen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, said in a statement.

    Hurtgen helped broker ends to a separate supermarket strike in St. Louis last month and last year's labor dispute between West Coast longshoremen and shipping companies, according to the AP.

    The companies and the union declined to say whether any progress was made during the meetings.

    The United Food and Commercial Workers union is at odds with Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., which owns the Ralphs chain, Idaho-based Albertsons Inc., and Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway Inc., which owns the Vons chain. The issues involved pensions and benefits, particularly the supermarkets' bid to make employees pay a larger share of health insurance costs.

    The situation has strapped workers' finances and hampered business at nearly 850 supermarkets.

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