Published: Sep 19, 2011 8:01 PM EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Union leaders say they've reached a tentative deal with some of Southern California's largest grocery chains that would head off the threat of a walkout by more than 60,000 workers.
    
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324 spokesman Todd Conger said Monday that the deal, which must be approved by the union's membership, protects workers' health policy.
    
The tentative agreement came a day after the passage of a Sunday evening deadline that would have permitted union leaders to begin a strike at any time.
    
Members voted last month to authorize leaders to call a strike after the two sides failed to reach agreement over payments to the union's health care trust fund.
    
Some 62,000 union members have been working at Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons stores without a permanent contract since March.

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