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The Seattle Times this morning reports that both sides in the Seattle-area supermarket labor talks – both the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and negotiators representing Albertsons, Safeway and Kroger-owned Fred Meyer and QFC – have decided to extend the current contract until July 9 and bring in a mediator after two months of talks.

The current contract expired on May 2; this is the third time both sides have extended it in hope of reaching an agreement.

The main sticking point in the negotiations has been the cost of health care, which reportedly has gone up 73 percent over the past three years. Management would like to cut benefits, while the UFCW has steadfastly resisted such a move.

However, the four-month grocery strike in Southern California, which resulted in millions of dollars of lost business for all three chains and severe hardship for unionized employees, seems to have both sides preferring a negotiated settlement to pitched battle.
KC's View:
Local analysts seem to feel that if a contract agreement weren’t within reach, a mediator would not have been called and an extension would not have been agreed upon.

Let’s hope sane heads are prevailing in Seattle.