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More than 9,000 union members who work for Indianapolis-area Kroger Co. stores have approved a new three-year labor agreement with the grocery chain.

The agreement covers members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 700 who work at 71 central Indiana Kroger stores.

According to a statement issued by Kroger on Monday morning, the agreement raises starting wages for most clerks to $10 per hour—up from the previous starting wage of $8.50 per hour—and employees will receive wage increases every six months.

The agreement also “maintains affordable Kroger-sponsored health care and continues investments in our associates’ pension fund for their retirement,” Kroger Central Division President Pam Matthews said in the statement.

UFCW Local 700 President Joe Chorpenning praised the deal.

“We stuck together and reached an agreement that increases pay; protects affordable, quality health care; and secures retirement benefits for the future,” Chorpenning said in written comments.

Chorpenning could not be reached for additional comment Monday morning.

Negotiations between Kroger and UFCW Local 700 began in April. The previous labor agreement was originally set to expire May 12, but it was extended while negotiations continued. Union members voted on the new agreement last week.

Source: Indianapolis Business Journal