Workers, Supermarkets Agree to Meet in St. Louis Labor Dispute

MEHLVILLE, Mo. - Supermarket representatives and St. Louis grocery workers involved in a labor dispute have said they will return to the bargaining table, according to an Associated Press report.

"We have agreed to meet and will meet," said Bob Kelley, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655.

Officials would not say when meetings would occur, citing a gag order requested from an independent, federal mediator. Representatives of the union and supermarkets have not met since a contract proposal was voted down and a strike was authorized Oct. 7 against Shop 'n Save Warehouse Foods Inc.

The two other major supermarket chains, Schnuck Markets Inc. and Dierbergs Markets Inc., responded to the strike by locking out workers. About 10,200 employees at nearly 100 stores are affected by the dispute, according to the report.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on Thursday asked the stores and union workers to resume contract talks. In addition, Missouri governor Bob Holden sent a letter to both sides asking them to meet. Holden also visited south St. Louis County, to speak in support of contract talks.

The Greater St. Louis Food Employers Council, a coalition of the three stores, issued a statement Thursday saying the stores shared the governor's concerns.

"We all want the same thing -- for our associates to return to work," the council said in the statement.
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