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Strike at Kroger's King Soopers ends after deal with union

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(Reuters) -More than 8,000 workers at nearly 80 Kroger Co-owned King Soopers stores called off their strike on Friday after reaching a tentative deal with the U.S. retail giant, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union said.

The details of the contract would be made public to the union members after a voting by workers beginning Monday, the union said.

"You have seven days to return to work. Contact your store manager to be placed on the schedule," the union told the workers on Twitter.

The workers went on a strike on Jan. 12 after rejecting at least two offers from the grocery chain. The union had rejected a $170 million offer made last week by Kroger, which termed it as the "last, best and final offer".

The offer proposed wage increases of up to $4.50 per hour depending on job classification and tenure, with the starting rate of pay increased to $16 per hour. The union, however, sought raises of at least $6 per hour for everyone.

Rising COVID-19 infections and inflation have pushed U.S. workers to demand better working conditions and higher pay, with employees at Deere & Co and Kellogg Co's cereal plants recently securing better deals after weeks of strike.

The latest deal comes after a lot of difficult negotiation, in which Kroger accused the union of refusing to bargain in good faith, while the union alleged a few King Soopers representatives displayed "unprofessional" and "outrageous" behavior.

A U.S. court earlier this week had granted King Soopers a temporary restraining order against its striking workers, prohibiting picketing in groups of over 10 people, interfering with anyone within 20 feet of the individual or standing in front of store entrances or vehicles.

(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Deborah Sophia; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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