A possible strike by Delaware County prison guards has been averted after the private company that runs the jail improved its offer on health-care costs.

At a meeting on Friday, the two sides were able to reach a temporary solution and agree to extend the contract until March 31, said Charles Siegel, spokesman for Community Community Education Center (CEC), the West Caldwell, N.J., company that has had a contract with the county to run the jail since 2009. He declined to provide details.

James Runckel, attorney for the union representing the 300 guards, said the new offer drastically reduces the out-of-pocket cost to the employees and sets up a safety net for employees who may have medical expenses during the 90-day contract extension.

The contract was set to expire on Dec. 31.

"It is a temporary fix," said Runckel. "We have 90 days to see if there can be a broader fix and avert a work stopage."

-Mari A. Schaefer