COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Kroger and the union representing its central and southeast Ohio workers staved off a labor strike, the union said Thursday night after workers ratified the grocer’s latest contract offer. 

The unionized employees voted 3,546-3,193, narrowly accepting the deal with Kroger, according to an email NBC4 obtained from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 1059. It was the fourth version recommended by both Kroger and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 1059 since July. 

Workers rejected the last three proposals, and they also voted in mid-September to authorize the UFCW to call a strike. Kroger and the union returned to the bargaining table Sept. 27 and 28, hammering out the contract that was ratified Thursday to avert a strike.

A total of 6,739 union workers voted in stores Tuesday through Thursday, while the new contract will impact a total of 12,500 members in central Ohio, UFCW 1059 said in emails. Kroger previously called the current contract its “largest wage investment ever provided” to associates in the Columbus division.

Under the ratified contract, 85% of union Kroger workers will receive a front-loaded $1.00 wage increase starting Oct. 23, according to details released ahead of the vote. Department heads, assistant department heads and full-time top-rate associates will also receive a $2,500 bonus. 

Eighty-two stores and around 12,500 workers within the Columbus division are under the new contract. Aside from the pay raise later in the month, UFCW told workers the other provisions of the contract kick in immediately.