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The Sacramento Bee reports that unionized employees at Raley's have voted to authorize a strike.

"With the company's contract with the United and Food and Commercial Workers scheduled to expire tonight," the Bee writes, "the vote brings the two sides closer than ever to a walkout, which would be the first in the company's history.

"Still, a strike doesn't appear to be imminent. Both sides said contract negotiations are set to resume Friday."

Negotiations have been taking place since last fall.

According to the paper, "The company and the union have been negotiating a new contract since last fall. Raley's, like its fellow union chains Save Mart and Safeway, is pushing for concessions on health care and other issues in order to regain market share from a rising tide of nonunion stores. So far, only Raley's has been the target of a strike authorization vote."
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