Supermarket Negotiations

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Contract negotiations between Safeway and the United Food and
Commercial Workers Local 7 broke down yesterday after the
California-based grocery chain proposed a new health plan.

Union President Ernest Duran says Safeway's plan would provide
fewer benefits and raise eligibility requirements for employees.

Yesterday's session came three days after workers approved a
union plan designed to cut health care costs by 21 million
dollars annually while protecting benefits.

Safeway spokesman Pete Webb says that plan is similar to
cost-cutting measures the company offered in recent years, but
which the union blocked.

Kroger-owned and Denver-based King Soopers, and Boise,
Idaho-based Albertsons, were not involved in yesterday's
negotiating session. The union will meet with corporate negotiators
from those chains next week.

The UFCW's five-year contract with the stores expires
September Eleventh.

All three companies -- Kroger, Albertsons, and Safeway -- lost a
combined one-point-five billion dollars during a
four-and-a-half month strike earlier this year in California,
brought on in part by a dispute over rising employee health costs.