SEATTLE (AP) - With two hours to go before 21,000 Puget Sound-area grocery workers were expected to strike four major chains, both sides announced a tentative contract agreement.
The deal reached at 5 p.m. Monday averted a walkout that had been threatened for 7 p.m. at QFC, Albertsons, Fred Meyer and Safeway stores in King, Snohomish, Pierce, Kitsap, Mason and Thurston counties.
The team bargaining on behalf of three union locals unanimously recommended that workers approve the agreement, said Tom Geiger, spokesman for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21.
Union negotiators were "very pleased" with the agreement, Geiger said.
Times and locations of the ratification votes were not immediately announced.
The grocery stores negotiated through Allied Employers.
"We are pleased to announce that we have reached a tentative settlement agreement with the unions that continues to preserve good wages, secure pensions and access to quality, affordable health care for our employees," Scott Powers, Allied Employers vice president, said in an email.
Both sides said details of the proposal would not be released until workers had a chance to review and vote on it.
Union locals involved include UFCW 21 and 367 and Teamsters Local 38.
Issues that had been unresolved after the unions issued a 72-hour strike notice Friday evening included wages, holiday pay and proposed cuts to health care benefits.
Contract talks began last March.
Powers has said the employers wanted a solid pay and benefits package for workers that would allow the companies to be competitive.
The area's last grocery strike, in 1989, lasted nearly three months.
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