The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and its 1.3 million members have voted to reject the $24.6B deal
Bill Wilson | May 09, 2023
The UFCW announced it was against the merger back in November of 2022.
The largest private sector union in the country has now officially rejected the largest grocery store merger in history. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and its 1.3 million members recently voted unanimously to reject the $24.6 billion Kroger, Albertsons deal.
“For months, the UFCW has called for transparency, engaged independent experts, and assessed the publicly available information on this proposed merger to determine the widespread impact it will have on our members and the communities they serve,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone.
“At our 9th Regular Convention, hundreds of UFCW delegates representing our entire union from around the country came together to unanimously declare that mergers pose a serious threat to the livelihoods of our members and we must act to confront them.
“Given the lack of transparency, and the impact a merger between two of the largest supermarket companies could have on essential workers – and the communities and customers they serve – the UFCW stands united in its opposition to the proposed Kroger and Albertsons merger.”
Perrone said his union has not been provided any definite assurances when it comes to store divestiture and how it might impact workers. The union also said it speculates that those who buy the divested stores, which could number close to 600, may face a high amount of debt.
Recently, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen and Albertsons chief Vivek Sankaran ran an op-ed in the Cincinnati Inquirer responding to what they referred to as the “three common myths” around the merger.
Two of the three concerns the CEOs addressed dealt with store closings and job losses. Responding to the store closure “myth,” the op-ed stated that Kroger was committed to zero store closures as a result of the merger. As for the concern around job losses for grocery workers, the two said no frontline workers will be laid off as a result of the merger, and that both are committed to protecting and expanding opportunities for union jobs.
“We have and will continue to engage constructively with the UFCW regarding the merger benefits and our divestiture plan, which includes no store closures or frontline associate layoffs as a result of the transaction. The merger is a win for our associates, customers and communities,” Kroger said in an email statement to SN. “The only parties who would benefit if this merger is not completed are large, non-unionized competitors such as Walmart and Amazon.”
Back in November, members of several locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers union protested the merger, saying that the proposed deal could cost thousands of supermarket workers their jobs. In a press conference ahead of a Senate hearing about the Kroger, Albertsons deal, several store-level workers detailed their past experiences with industry consolidation—including the impact of the 2015 Albertsons-Safeway merger—and their concerns about the impact of the pending deal.
“Just as people were starting to make things right again after the downturn and the pandemic, Kroger and Albertsons are once again pulling the rug out from underneath us,” said Judy Wood, a cake decorator at Albertsons in Orange County, Calif., and member of UFCW Local 324.
Wood, a 34-year Albertsons veteran, said workers were told by management that “there was nothing to worry about” when Albertsons and Safeway merged, but many ended up losing their jobs when Haggen acquired dozens of locations to satisfy antitrust concerns, and then filed for bankruptcy.