NEW YORK -- The new labor contract in Southern California will do an effective job of narrowing the wage gap between Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., and its nonunion rivals, Steve Burd, chairman, president and chief executive officer, told investors at a conference here last week. Speaking at the Merrill Lynch Retailing Leaders conference, Burd said holding out for a more favorable contract during the 20-week strike against Safeway's Vons and Pavilions chains was an easy choice, given the fact ...

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