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MADISON HEIGHTS, MI-Union workers at Detroit-based grocery chain Farmer Jack have approved a new contract that appears to clear the way for the sale of the 71-store chain.

In a high voter turnout, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 876 overwhelmingly ratified a contract designed to facilitate the sale of the company. The contract includes a 10% wage cut for most Farmer Jack workers and other concessions.

“The membership was faced with a tough choice, and we believe they made the right choice,” says Victoria Collins, Local 876′s president. “The officers and the members of the Farmer Jack Bargaining Committee truly believe this agreement was and is necessary to secure a buyer for the stores willing to preserve the majority of members’ jobs.”

This was the second vote on the proposal, the first was rejected about a week and a half earlier in very light voter turnout. “Since the contract vote benefits the livelihoods of thousands, the members serving on the Farmer Jack committees, along with the local’s officers, wanted to be confident the outcome of the vote accurately reflects the intent of the majority of the Farmer Jack membership,” Collins says.

Farmer Jack’s owner, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. of Montvale, NJ, said it would close four Michigan stores in the next 30 days after last week’s rejection of wage concessions. A&P announced in May that it would close 18 Farmer Jack supermarkets in Michigan and Ohio and try to sell 71 successful Detroit-area stores as part of plans to get rid of about half of A&P’s 650 North American stores.

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