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• The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that “inspired by strike threats from workers at Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons earlier this year, Food 4 Less employees voted Thursday to authorize a strike if parent company Kroger Co. does not offer them better wages and benefits.

“Members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) from seven Southern California unions said workers at Food 4 Less sometimes make as much as $3 less than comparable employees at Ralphs, another Kroger chain.

“The UFCW said in a statement that Cincinnati-based Kroger is ‘deliberately stalling progress’ on negotiations as a way to ‘weaken union resolve.’ Bargaining, the unions said, is expected to resume later this month.

“Food 4 Less remains committed to reaching an agreement that is good for our employees and helps keep union jobs sustainable for the future,” responded Kendra Doyel, a spokeswoman for the chain. “We will continue to work with union leadership to negotiate a contract. Our employees do not want to strike and they look forward to serving customers in our stores throughout the holiday season.”

• The San Francisco Chronicle reports that “the bank accounts of about 80 employees and customers at 23 Bay Area Lucky supermarket locations were breached after someone tampered with credit- and debit-card readers in self-checkout lines, the grocery chain said.

“Many of the employees and customers had money taken from their accounts. Officials recommend that customers who have used the self-checkout terminals in any of the 23 stores within the past few months close their accounts immediately, said Alicia Rockwell, spokeswoman for Save Mart Supermarkets, which owns Lucky supermarkets.”

The company said it is working with law enforcement agencies to find the perpetrators; the breached equipment has been replaced.

• Want evidence that the yogurt category is hot? Look no further than the Associated Press report that Dannon Co. is buying commercial time during the Super Bowl - the first time, the company says, that a yogurt company has bought the expensive ad time.

The commercial reportedly will air during the third quarter.

USA Today reports that San Francisco has become “the first city in the nation to scale a $10 minimum wage. The city's hourly wage for its lowest-paid workers will hit $10.24, more than $2 above the California minimum wage and nearly $3 more than the working wage set by the federal government.”

The changes take effect on January 1, 2012.

• Hershey said late last week that it is acquiring Brookside Foods, a Canadian chocolate maker. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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