Negotiations continued yesterday between several supermarket chains and meat cutters and retail clerks as they sought to reach agreement on a new contract that will affect 20,000 employees in a four-state area.

No strike deadline had been act yesterday, although the old agreement expired at midnight.

Federal mediator Donald Brodsky said there was "still a lot of work to be done," but would not pinpoint issues being argued.

The negotiations concern workers in Maryland, Delaware, Northern Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The four locals of the Meat Cutters and Retail Clerks unions were negotiating with the Food Employers Labor Relations Association, which includes Safeway, Giant, A&P, Grand Union, Food Fair/Pantry Pride and Memon.

It was after several weeks of negotiations that the federal mediators were brought in last Friday.

At stake in the negotiations are wages and fringe benefits for cashiers, clerks, meat cutters and other workers.

The 13,000 clerks now earn $5.69 an hour after two years experience and the members of the smaller meat cutters union earn somewhat more, a spokesman said.

When the last contract expired three years ago there was a brief strike of the local retail clerks union in the Washington area.