Southern California grocery workers to begin voting today on new contract with region's largest grocery chains; union officials have urged approval of the plan

LOS ANGELES , September 23, 2011 () – Southern California supermarket employees are scheduled to begin voting on whether to accept a deal that their union leaders negotiated with the region's largest grocery chains in hopes of heading off a strike.

Workers are set to get their first look at details of the deal reached last week when they file into their union locals' headquarters or other voting locations to cast their ballots Friday and Saturday.

Union officials have urged their rank and file to ratify the plan, which they say addresses concerns about funding for the employees' health plan. Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons, meanwhile, say the agreement would allow them to remain competitive.

A four-month strike eight years ago cost the industry $2 billion and created havoc for shoppers.

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