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Published reports say that four days of secret negotiations between the United Food and Commercial Workers and representatives of Southern California's three major supermarket chains fell apart yesterday, with the parties describing them as having made "limited progress."

The talks were convened in the hope that they would lead to the settlement of a three month-old grocery strike lockout by 70,000 workers at Kroger's Ralphs chain, Safeway's Vons, and Albertsons. The federal mediator who had been involved in previous, aborted efforts at negotiations did not attend this set of sessions.

The talks were described as intensive, off-the-record and likely to resume later this month, though no schedule has been set.

The dispute is over compensation and health care benefits issues.
KC's View:
Talking is a start. But it almost needs to be a zero-based approach…an attempt to create an entirely new relationship between management and labor, not just tweaking the previous arrangement. But it doesn’t sound like this is what happening.