SoCal grocery stores announce agreement in union talks

LOS ANGELES

Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons said in a joint statement Friday that the companies and the United Food and Commercial Workers have reached a tentative agreement on the pension portion of the labor agreement that's currently being negotiated. They agreed on the employers' contributions to pension benefits.

The stores also said in the statement that there is still more work to do on other parts of the contract.

The main sticking point of the contract, however, is employee contributions to health care costs. The contract covering the workers expired in March.

On Tuesday, the stores called talks of a strike unnecessary, since talks continue.

A four-month strike and lockout that began in 2003 cost Ralphs and other grocery chains an estimated $2 billion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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