Still No End to California Strike

LOS ANGELES - Southern California supermarket chains involved in a four-month strike rejected an offer by the union of binding arbitration late yesterday, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger offered to terminate the strike if asked.

In a joint statement Albertsons, Kroger, and Safeway called the proposal issued by the San Diego local of the United Foods and Commercial Workers union an effort to "shift the focus" from the union's "inability" to negotiate a settlement.

"Labor disputes are resolved by face-to-face negotiations with people familiar with the issues," the companies' statement said. "Only the parties to this labor dispute, engaged in active negotiation, can arrive at a reasonable solution that is mutually acceptable to both sides."

Yesterday the union announced its proposal at 11:00 a.m. PST jointly in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Bakersfield. It offered to submit all unresolved contract issues to binding arbitration and end the strike and lockout immediately. In exchange, all replacement workers would be dismissed, and striking workers would return to work immediately under the terms of the expired agreement until an arbitrator rules on the dispute.

On Tuesday, during a radio interview, Schwarzenegger said he would intervene in the strike if asked.
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