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Grocery workers to begin voting on stores' "last, best and final" contract offer

The 17,000 grocery workers of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union could begin receiving ballots to vote on

Safeway and King Soopers' "last, best and final" contract offer

as soon as tomorrow. A yes vote would end seven months of bargaining.

The ballots are scheduled to be mailed today, says union spokeswoman Laura Chapin, and the entire voting process is expected to take two weeks. Throughout negotiations, the grocery chains and the union have butted heads over pay raises and proposed cuts to workers' pensions. (Check out this October 22 blog, "Behind the latest breakdown in talks between grocery workers and Safeway," for a union explanation of what went wrong the last time the parties met to negotiate.)

If King Soopers workers okay the latest offer, they'll get an added bonus: a store gift card worth up to $1,000, depending on workers' levels of experience. It'll be too late to use it toward a Thanksgiving turkey, but perhaps a Christmas goose?

And if they don't? "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Chapin says.

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