US supermarket chain Ralphs, a division of Kroger, has announced that it has been notified by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union that a new labour contract covering 70,000 supermarket associates in Southern California has been ratified by union members, ending a 141-day work stoppage.

The labour dispute between members of the UFCW and Albertsons, Safeway’s Vons and Kroger’s Ralphs centred on plans by the retailers to make workers contribute more to health care costs.

Ralphs said that the new three-year agreement covers more than 19,000 Ralphs workers in 300 stores in Southern California and that it plans to recall its workers this week.

“Under the new agreement, Ralphs associates will continue to receive very competitive wages and benefits. The agreement also allows Ralphs to manage its overall costs by addressing soaring health care costs and competitive issues the company faces,” Ralphs said.