BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Raley's and Nob Hill workers went on strike at 6 a.m. today after three days of marathon negotiations failed to produce a new contract. Read the developing story here.
Raley's labor negotiations went into overtime early Sunday, as the supermarket chain and its labor union tried to avoid a strike.
Negotiators worked past the midnight deadline set by Raley's, and the existing labor contract was being extended "on an hour-to-hour basis" at the request of the federal mediator, according to Local 8 of the United Food and Commercial Workers. Both sides agreed to the extension.
The two sides began meeting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, the third day of extensive bargaining aimed at heading off the first strike in Raley's 77-year history.
Local 8 and UFCW Local 5 in San Jose both said on their websites Saturday that health care remained the key sticking point in negotiations. In particular, Raley's has proposed eliminating coverage for Medicare-eligible retirees a proposal the union has said is unacceptable.
The West Sacramento grocer was about to unilaterally impose concessions on the union last Thursday, a move that would have likely triggered a strike. But the company backed off at the rest of a federal mediator, who has overseen the three days of talks in San Francisco.
Local 8 said the mediator early today asked for the hourly contract extensions until "he believes all options have been exhausted."
Raley's is pressing for concessions, saying it needs lower labor costs to battle nonunion competition and erase millions of dollars in annual losses. The UFCW agreed to concessions with Save Mart Supermarkets in September but has said Raley's demands are too high.
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