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Seattle Area Supermarket Chains, Union Continue Talks

SEATTLE - Negotiators for four of Seattle's largest grocery chains and the union representing their workers have agreed to extend talks about a new labor contract, delaying the prospect of a possible strike or lockout, the Seattle Times reports.

The current contract, which covers more than 16,000 employees at Safeway, Albertsons, QFC and Kroger-owned Fred Meyer, was set to expire Sunday.

Last night, however, both the grocers and the United Food and Commercial Workers scheduled five more bargaining sessions in the first three weeks of May.

The extension is on a meeting-to-meeting basis, with each side having the right to terminate the contract with 72 hours' notice after any of those meetings.

The talks began April 15. They are centered on proposed reductions in grocery workers' health benefits and a two-tier wage structure that would have new employees earning less than veterans.

The two sides will meet Friday, according to the report.
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