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Kroger Negotiations Resume

CINCINNATI - Talks between Kroger Co. and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1099, representing 8,500 meat cutters and clerks in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, are resuming today, according to published reports.

The grocer and the union reviewed proposals for a new, three-year contract over the weekend. Although progress was made last week on health insurance affordability, as well as company funding of the union's pension plan, wage and contract language issues are still in dispute.

Kroger has offered a bonus when the contract is signed, a increase in hourly wage rates in 2005, and another lump sum payment in 2006, but employees "want hard wage increases in lieu of bonuses," according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Union members voted to strike Wednesday, and the two sides returned to negotiations Thursday. Enough progress occurred regarding health care and pension funding that federal mediator Earl Leonhardt persuaded Kroger and the union late Thursday to once again extend their last contract and keep talking. Either side is able to revoke the extension with 72 hours' notice.
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