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    St. Louis Grocery Workers Approve Three-Year Labor Pact

    ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Nearly 10,000 workers from the three largest grocery store chains here overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year labor contract, averting a command performance of a bitter strike and lockout that lasted for more than three weeks in 2003.

    ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Nearly 10,000 workers from the three largest grocery store chains here overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year labor contract, averting a command performance of a bitter strike and lockout that lasted for more than three weeks in 2003.

    Members of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655 approved the new three-year deal with Dierbergs, Schnucks, and Shop 'n Save by a margin of 82 percent of the 2,800 members. The supermarkets' employees will get pay raises that will increase by $1.20 an hour over the three years of the contract. The first wage increase of 45 cents an hour will be implemented retroactive to mid-May.

    The contract, which covers 98 stores in Missouri, also requires workers for the first time to pay a portion of their health care costs. Workers' share of the premiums will range from $4 a week for employee-only coverage to $12 weekly for family coverage.

    In addition to higher wages, other key provisions of the new labor agreement include improved dental and vision benefits, prescription benefits for part-time employers, and increased contributions to the employees' pension plan, disability pay, and life insurance.

    The new labor agreement, which is set to expire in May 2010, covers workers at 53 Schnucks, 21 Dierbergs, and 24 Shop 'n Save stores.

    "This is truly a negotiated contract that provides substantial benefits to our members, both monetarily and in contract language, which will improve the quality of work in the stores and continue to ensure high-quality customer service, which is our mutual key goal," said Jim Dougherty, Local 655 president.


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