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SEATTLE Representatives of four local grocery store chains and their union employees are due at the bargaining table on Thursday morning. But, the stores are already implementing their contingency plans.

Allied Employers, which represents QFC, Safeway, Albertson s and Fred Meyer, says stores are now preparing for a work stoppage.At a QFC on Seattle s Capitol Hill, there were signs at the front door advertising the need for temporary employees in case of a labor dispute. There was a report of similar signs appearing at area Safeway stores.

We have to be prepared, said Allied Vice President Scott Powers. Stores have contingency plans and are employing them. But, it doesn t mean we ve given up on bargaining.

Union members voted to reject their last contract offer by 94 percent and have threatened to strike at the end of their current deal. Workers say the Big Four stores want to cut pay, benefits and pensions.

The local branch of the Teamsters Union announced Wednesday members will not deliver to the stores during a work stoppage as a show of solidarity.

Grocery chains unaffected by a possible work stoppage, including Costco, Metropolitan Market, Grocery Outlet and PCC, say they have not made plans to alter operations because of a strike at the other stores.

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