In an attempt to provide added leverage to the grocery workers union in contract talks, Los Angeles' powerful labor movement and its allies among elected officials are exploring ways to use local government to pressure supermarket chains to boost pay and benefits, Los Angeles Time reports.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is negotiating with Southern California's three largest supermarket chains , Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons , on a new contract to cover about 65,000 workers.

The previous contract, signed three years ago after a 141-day strike and lockout, is considered a poor one by the union because it provides lower wages and benefits to newly hired workers.

Changing the structure of that contract has become a rallying cry in the local labor movement.

Although both sides have emphasized their desire to avoid another work stoppage, elected officials have sought to pressure the stores in recent weeks.

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