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Grocery Workers Plan Strike

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Grocery workers will start striking tomorrow, following an overwhelming rejection of a contract offer by three supermarket chains.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union will announce later in the day which chain will be targeted. The chains involved are Kroger Company´s Ralphs, Safeway´s Vons and Albertsons.

Union members started voting Wednesday on whether to accept their latest labor contract. A spokesman for the union, Greg Denier, said members “overwhelmingly” voted in favor of a strike.

A spokesman for Ralphs, Terry O´Neil, said the call to strike is “premature and regrettable.”

Negotiations broke down Sunday after the union and the chains could not agree on health care coverage. The companies want workers to contribute to their health benefits, saying a sluggish economy and rising health care costs prevent them from remaining competitive with rival chains.

The chains operate nearly 900 stores from Santa Barbara to San Diego. The last time the grocery workers went on strike was 1978. It lasted less than a week.