Kroger-Albertsons merger gets push back from Colorado officials
Colorado State Treasurer Dave Young became the latest state official to publicly oppose the proposed merger between grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons, the respective parent companies of King Soopers and Safeway.
He joins Secretary of State Jena Griswold in pressing the Federal Trade Commission to halt the $25 billion deal made public in October.
Attorney General Phil Weiser also announced in December that Colorado was joining an investigation into the merger.
In a letter signed by six other state treasurers, Young argues that the merger could hurt the “financial well-being” of residents because of any resulting “reduction in wages.”
The treasurers cite a May study by the Economic Policy Institute that found the deal “will lower wages for 746,000 grocery store workers in over 50 metropolitan areas of the U.S.,” with total annual earnings dropping by $334 million in those locations.
“The ramifications of these wage reductions extend beyond individual workers and their ability to sustain themselves and their families,” the state treasurers write. “They would also have broader consequences for the economies of our states and municipalities,” as pay cuts could potentially hit all grocery store workers in impacted cities.
Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told The Denver Post in an exclusive last month that “no frontline associate will lose their job,” committing to putting $1 billion toward associate raises and benefits over a period of five years.
Other concerns listed by the state treasurers include the impact on corporate suppliers, employees’ ability to unionize and negotiate and reduced access to goods and services, such as food and medicine.
“The interests of our constituents and the long-term economic security of our states would be better served by opposing this merger,” the letter concludes. The other state treasurers to join Young in the push represent Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington state.
Representatives for Albertsons and King Soopers didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Secretaries of state
Earlier this month, Griswold and six other secretaries of state also sent a letter to FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan. As their seven states include almost 5,000 potentially-impacted stores, they also encourage the federal government to “stand up to corporate greed as it has done in the past to ensure there is a competitive marketplace for essential goods and services.”
“It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that corporate monopolies do not cheat hardworking Americans into paying artificially high prices, so executives and shareholders can line their own pockets,” the Aug. 16 letter states.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union, which represents Albertsons, City Market, King Soopers and Safeway grocery workers in Colorado, has steadfastly opposed the merger from the start.
It argues that the deal “would drive out competition, increase food prices, create food deserts, and put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk as well as hurt local farmers and ranchers,” according to a Wednesday statement.
The merger, which is expected to close early next year, is currently under review by the FTC.
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