Kroger, the parent of King Soopers, has asked a federal mediator to draft a labor contract covering 17,500 grocery workers at some of its stores and those of Safeway and Albertsons in Colorado. The company said the request was made to hasten an end to the months-long stalemate, but union officials countered that management was unhappy with media coverage portraying it as hurting workers. A spokesman for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service said the request was unusual, but that a mediator in the case would wait for the union's response before proceeding.

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