SANTA MARIA, Calif. -

Management and the union representing workers at Food4Less have announced a tentative contract after talks that extended after the prior contract expired.

“I am pleased to say we have reached a tentative contract deal that protects employees’ wages, hours, and health care. We would not have been able to accomplish this without the backing of the public, and for all our members I would like to offer our sincerest thanks,” said Rick Icaza, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local #770.

The agreement covers 6,000 employees working at 100 stores in Southern California, including Oxnard.  According to a news release from the store's website, the new agreement includes wage increases, health care and company contributions to employee pensions.

"We are pleased to reach an agreement that is good for our associates, who will continue to have a solid and competitive compensation package," said Bryan Kaltenbach, president of Food4Less.  "We appreciate the service our associates provide our customers and company every day," he said.

The agreement still needs ratification from employees, which is expected next week.

Food4Less is owned by national grocer Kroger, based in Cincinnati, Ohio.