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    St. Louis Supermarkets, Union Reach Accord

    ST. LOUIS - Negotiators for the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 and the three largest supermarket chains in the St. Louis area have reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

    ST. LOUIS - Negotiators for the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 and the three largest supermarket chains in the St. Louis area have reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

    The bargaining agreement marks the first time union leaders asked members to approve a single contract covering all 10,000 grocery workers at Schnuck Markets Inc., Dierbergs Markets, and Supervalu-owned Shop 'n Save supermarkets in the St. Louis region.

    Local observers say the unified pact mirrors growing concern about the increasing clout of labor at union-free Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which has vaulted to not only become the world's largest retailer but also the nation's leading grocer.

    The paper reports that prior to contract negotiations this year, Craig Schnuck, chairman and CEO of his namesake family business, said unions should be more flexible in helping companies control costs so that supermarkets can better compete against Wal-Mart.

    In the past, Local 655 negotiated separate labor contracts with each grocery company, which while similar contained some variations.

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