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Kroger, Union reach agreement, strive averted


CINNCINNATI (AP) Kroger reached a tentative three-year contract late Thursday with a union representing nearly 11,000 workers in the Cincinnati region, according to reports.

Kroger spokeswoman Meghan Glynn confirmed the agreement, although details were not disclosed.

The agreement, announced late Thursday, avoided a last-minute strike at 79 stores in the Cincinnati region. Kroger, the nation's largest traditional grocer, hasn't had a strike in its hometown since 1971.

The tentative contract must be approved by the Local 1099 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which last month authorized its leaders to call a strike. They continued working under a contract extension that was scheduled to end at midnight Thursday.

Kroger officials and leaders had made preparations for a strike. Kroger had said it would use managers and temporary workers to keep operating the 79 affected stores in southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana.

"This is a very competitive market and it does happen to be our hometown," Glynn said. "With any contract we negotiate, it has to make sense economically."

This year, pay raises in the rejected proposal ranged from 10 cents an hour for baggers to 95 cents an hour for department heads. A top-rated clerk's pay would increase 85 cents an hour from $14.61 an hour. Workers voted overwhelmingly last month to authorize their leadership to call a strike. Kroger, which had $66.1 billion in sales last year, operates 2,491 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local chains, including Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, King Soopers, Smith's, Fry's, Dillons, QFC and City Market.

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