Safeway, workers agree to continue labor talks

DENVER (AP) — With the threat of a strike looming, Safeway agreed to resume negotiations with its union workers a day after they authorized a strike, a company spokeswoman said Sunday.

The labor contract between Safeway and its workers expired Saturday night without a new labor agreement and workers were planning to walk off their jobs as soon as Monday.

The grocery chain remains 'committed to negotiating new agreements which recognize the realities of the current economy and the highly competitive retail food market in Colorado,' said Safeway spokeswoman Kristine Staaf.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 in Colorado represents about 17,000 workers at Safeway, King Soopers and Albertsons. The union said the three chains have offered similar proposals to replace the current labor contracts, which expired Saturday, but the sides still disagree over wages and pension benefits.

Staaf says Sunday's agreement means the labor agreements that expired Saturday will be extended on a day-to-day basis until May 30 while negotiations continue. She says that either side can agree to terminate their temporary agreement with 24-hour written notice.

King Soopers workers also extended their contract until May 30 while they continue negotiations.

Union spokeswomen Crisanta Duran and Laura Chapin did not immediately return calls for comment.