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Saturday, September 11 marks the expiration of the current contract between 30,000 unionized San Francisco Bay Area grocery workers and the major supermarket chains in the area, including Albertsons, Safeway and Kroger.

Labor and management reportedly are meeting to try and hash out a new contract. The issues largely are benefits and health care-related, with management looking to create a two-tier system that offers lower salaries and benefits to new employees, similar to concessions won in the four-month Southern California strike/lockout. The chains say these kinds of concessions are necessary to be competitive.

Labor, on the other hand, is saying that Northern California workers traditionally have had better pay and benefits than Southern California workers, and that it has no intention of accepting any less. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union has said it is prepared to call for a strike.

Stay tuned.
KC's View:
Just based on timing, we’d have to guess that an extension of the current contract will be the first order of business. But that’s just a guess.

The news reports all say that much of the negotiating this point has been about logistical issues, not substantive issues. Can’t imagine why they’d be in any hurry; after all, they have a whole day or so to talk.

But the willingness to go down to wire simply makes this too hard to call.