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    Both Sides Talking in California Grocery Strike

    SAN DIEGO - Negotiators for grocery clerks and three supermarket chains met with a federal mediator yesterday, the first such talks since the strike and walkout began a month ago, according to published reports.

    SAN DIEGO - Negotiators for grocery clerks and three supermarket chains met with a federal mediator yesterday, the first such talks since the strike and walkout began a month ago, according to published reports.

    Few details are expected from the meetings, because they're being held in an undisclosed location and the federal mediator has asked both sides not to comment to the media.

    The work stoppage began with 21,000 Vons workers going on strike Oct. 11. In response Ralphs Grocery Co. and Albertsons, Inc. locked out 49,000 other workers in solidarity with Safeway, Inc., parent of Vons Co., Inc.

    The strike and lockout have affected 859 grocery stores from the Mexican border to Bishop, Calif. However, the union lifted the pickets outside Ralphs stores last week.

    According to the report, shoppers have flooded back to Ralphs, and the union says it hopes that will weaken the bond between the three supermarket chains.

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