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INDIANAPOLIS - Union negotiators and Kroger officials
agreed to an indefinite contract extension late Tuesday, averting a possible strike by 4,000 grocery workers in central Indiana, according to an Associated Press report.
Negotiations between the grocery chain and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 700 were expected to resume later this week. The contract extension allows either side to rescind the agreement with 72 hours' notice.
A previous contract extension covering 58 Kroger stores was to expire at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Workers prepared to walk off the job if last-minute talks did not make progress.
In addition to the Indianapolis-area workers, the contract
extension also covers 300 workers at 13 Sav-On stores in northern Indiana and 200 workers at Kroger stores in Richmond and New Castle, the AP report said.
The key issue is growth in health care costs, which is also a sticking point in a strike by 3,300 Kroger workers in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. That walkout began Oct. 13, and both sides have said they expect a long strike.
Union members want a contract that fully covers increased health care costs, continues to grant full pensions to retirees at age 60, and provides bigger raises for new hires.