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Food 4 Less workers’ union reaches tentative labor deal with grocer to avert potential strike

The union representing thousands of Food 4 Less workers reached a tentative contract agreement today with the grocery company, averting a potential strike.

Workers had previously authorized a work stoppage if labor talks failed. But on Tuesday, representatives of United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 8GS, 135, 324, 770, 1167, 1428 and 1442 announced that they had reached a tentative deal that includes "substantial wage increases for all workers, more guaranteed hours and other contract improvements."

No details of the proposed agreement were released. The deal will have to be ratified by union members, and specifics were expected to be shared with them during private meetings this week.

"We are proud to announce a tentative agreement with Food 4 Less/Foods Co. that we unanimously recommend to our co-workers,'' the union Bargaining Committee said in a statement. "We are grateful for the solidarity and strength our co-workers have shown throughout negotiations as well as the overwhelming support we have received from our customers and community members. We could not have achieved this deal without them.''   

Food 4 Less has three stores in the Coachella Valley and is a subsidiary of The Kroger Co., which also owns Ralphs. The union represents roughly 6,000 workers.

Kroger spokesman Salvador Ramirez said last week the company had "presented a historic offer that includes over $70 million in wage investments, industry-leading healthcare, and retirement benefits.''

"Our associates are the heartbeat of our company, and we will continue to do everything we can to balance investments in wages and overall associate well-being while keeping food affordable for our customers,'' he said in a statement last week. "Our stores will continue to be open for business to serve our communities."  

Food 4 Less officials said earlier that the company made an offer that includes increasing salaries to $25.80 per hour by 2026 for a full-time cashier with four years of full-time experience, for an annual salary of more than $50,000. That proposal also would not increase employee health insurance costs over the three-year contract, according to the company.   

The union's demands included higher pay and safety improvements. Their contract expired June 8. Union officials said Food 4 Less/Foods Co. workers should be paid wages on par with those at other union grocery stores, including other Kroger properties.

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