By Paige Austin

Negotiations between grocery store workers and Southern California supermarket chains have stopped, and a union representing workers authorized a strike vote Thursday.

The voting will take place between March 21 and March 26, according to Bertha Rodríguez, the communications coordinator for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770. The union is one of seven representing some 60,000 grocery workers in more than 500 Ralphs and Vons/Pavilions/Albertson stores from the Central Valley to the Mexico border.

The decision to put the vote to the workers comes after weeks of heated negotiations. On Sunday, a three-year-old labor contract between the grocery workers and supermarkets expired, and the two sides remain far apart.

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