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    Kroger Workers Granted Extended Contract

    Union and company agree to a week's contract extension.

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Kroger Co. and the worker's union, representing 58 of the company's central Indiana stores, agreed yesterday to a week's contract extension and talks designed to avert a strike, according to a report in The New York Times.

    Most of the company's 4,000 employees represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 700 had been expected to walk off the job today, after rejecting the company's contract offer on Monday and authorizing a strike, the company reported.

    "A little breathing room can be good in these situations," said Rian Wathen, Local 700 organizing director to The New York Times. "When it comes to whether we want a strike or a contract, we prefer a contract ? and our members prefer a contract."

    The extension will be until Nov. 12, and came when a federal mediator persuaded both sides to give negotiations another chance. Talks are to begin again later in the week, company officials said in a statement.

    The current issue is a four-year contract offer that would require higher health-care contributions from employees, reported the Times. A similar dispute led to a strike beginning Oct. 13 by more than 3,000 Kroger workers in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, and is still continuing. The company closed 44 stores in the region, and stated they would remain closed until there is a resolution.

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