Bill Wilson | Jun 13, 2023
Group said it spent months talking to upper management but could not get concerns resolved
Opposition to the $24.6 billion Kroger, Albertsons merger does not appear to be dying down as the Teamsters union announced they oppose the deal.
The Teamsters, a labor union representing members in the U.S. and Canada, said that some 22,000 of their members work for Kroger and Albertsons, across the companies’ stores, distribution centers, and manufacturing plants.
The Teamsters said they had been engaging in talks with both Kroger and Albertsons over the last few months, but little progress was made regarding some of the concerns the union had around the merger deal, including job security.
“In our discussions with Kroger and Albertsons, we made clear that our members need more than vague promises about their future,” said Tom Erickson, Teamsters International Vice President and Director of the Teamsters Warehouse Division.
“If either company were truly sincere about protecting our members, they would agree to recognize our existing union contracts, or agree to successorship language for any of our member units sold to third parties, once the merger is complete,” Erickson added. “Instead of finding a path to ensure our members succeed in lockstep with the companies, Kroger and Albertsons apparently want to go down this road alone.”
Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien also did not mask his disappointment with the upper management of Kroger and Albertsons.
“Kroger and Albertsons management likes to talk the talk on job security when they’re sitting in front of Congress, but talk means little when it comes to protecting our members,” said O’Brien. “We expected better from these two longtime Teamster employers. Clearly, they are more interested in guaranteeing big payouts for management.”
Kroger sent the following in an email to Supermarket News:
“We have and will continue to engage constructively with the Teamsters 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. The only parties who would benefit if this merger is not completed are large, non-unionized competitors such as Walmart and Amazon.”
Albertsons also submitted a comment via email to SN:
“We have a rich history of creating quality jobs and working collaboratively alongside Teamsters. Our proposed merger with Kroger will secure the long-term future of union jobs by establishing a more competitive alternative to large, non-union retailers. The combined company will also invest in associate wages, training, and benefits to ensure it is able to bring even more value to the customers and communities our associates so proudly serve.”
Several unions have come out and have officially rejected the Kroger, Albertsons merger. Back in May the largest private sector union in the country, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, announced its opposition of what would be the largest grocery store merger in U.S. history.
The union also spent time talking with Kroger and Albertsons officials about their concerns and said they were not happy about the results.
“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.
Fueling the merger resistance was a policy memo by the Economic Policy Institute that claimed grocery store workers could lose $330 million annually in pay if the deal goes through.
Other groups have also come forward about what they say will be the negative impact of the merger deal. Recently, a national parent-led organization protested outside the Federal Trade Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C. The national “Stop the Merger” coalition, backed by over a hundred groups who oppose the merger, was also in D.C. protesting the deal recently.
The Federal Trade Commission has yet to announce its decision on the Kroger, Albertsons deal.
Kroger and Albertsons are committed to seeing the merger through, even if it means a lengthy legal battle. Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told Bloomberg lawyers have been assembled to fight the FTC if it does end up rejecting the merger deal.