Bruno's, UFCW Extend Labor Contract

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Bruno's Supermarkets, Inc. and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1657 have extended a labor contract through July 2005 as the retailer's parent company, Netherlands-based Royal Ahold, approaches a self-imposed deadline to sell the chain, according to published reports.

Ahold, which bought Bruno's in 2001, has said it intends to sell the company and a sister chain, Bi-Lo of South Carolina, by the end of the year.

Bruno's had been negotiating with the union to have a new agreement completed by the end of September, when the old contract expired. Instead, the UFCW and Bruno's extended the old contract last week.

"The agreement will not affect the sale in any way," Robert Baker, Bruno's v.p. of labor relations, said earlier in the week.

According to union president Elaise Fox, most of the 8,000 to 11,000 unionized employees at Bruno's stores in Alabama were in favor of an extension.

Fox said the decision was based on Ahold's financial situation and continuing sales talks involving Bruno's, which runs 178 stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi.
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