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Kroger's Workers Accept Offer

2003/10/13 #836078: Kroger store picketed by striking employees, Charleston, West Virginia, photo on black
AP
Striking Kroger Co. workers in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio ratified a new contract on Thursday, ending their two-month standoff with the Cincinnati supermarket chain.

Workers leaving the Charleston Civic Center after the vote said the contract was approved 976-780. A simple majority was required to ratify the agreement.

Union and Kroger officials were not immediately available for comment. Details of the contract also were not immediately available.

The agreement was negotiated earlier this week by union and Kroger officials under federal mediation in Cincinnati.

Some 3,300 members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 at 44 stores in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio have been off the job since Oct. 13, when contract negotiations with the company fell apart.

Health care costs were the main obstacle to a contract. Kroger's final offer before the strike was to increase its contribution to a health and welfare fund by 8 percent a year. Actuarial studies showed that the proposal would have bankrupted the fund unless it reduced the level of benefits it covered.

Kroger spokesman Archie Fralin said earlier that if the contract proposal was ratified it would take up to 10 days for the stores to open.