DENVER (KDVR) — Two of the largest grocery chains could be merging, but not if some local unions have anything to say about it. Members and representatives took their fight to Capitol Hill to speak with legislators about the possible multibillion-dollar sale of Kroger and Albertsons.
On Tuesday in Washington, local United Food and Commercial Workers unions from across the country stood in solidarity at a press conference to stop the two grocers from becoming one. Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7, traveled from Colorado to the nation’s capital.
“Local 7 absolutely opposes the merger,” Cordova told FOX31. “We think this is going to be bad for workers, consumers and for our communities.”
Union: Kroger-Albertsons plan would hurt workers, consumers
She and other union members believe the merger will leave many essential workers unemployed as stores are forced to shut down, create more food deserts and increase food prices because of a lack of competition in the market.
“We just went through this when Safeway and Albertsons merged in 2014. Here in Colorado, 33 stores closed immediately when that merger took place and workers lost their jobs,” Cordova said. “The company is going to have so much power with this duopoly that they’re going to be able to suppress wages, benefits, and also this is going to hurt the consumer. I mean, with less choice there’s no real incentive to lower prices.”
Some lawmakers in Washington are also raising concerns and pushing back. U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders met with Cordova and union members on Tuesday. Senators also held a hearing to ask both grocers’ CEOs vital questions. The companies say the merger will allow them to keep up with rivals like Walmart, Costco and Amazon. They also say it will save shoppers more money and allow them to invest more in employees.
King Soopers worker: ‘I’ve been through that before’
However, Carole McMillian, union member and current bakery manager at a King Soopers in Aurora, said she doesn’t trust it.
“My heart kind of jumped into my throat because I’ve been through that before,” McMillian explained.
She goes on to share more of her history, stating that before her job at King Soopers, she worked at Safeway for 11 years but was forced out when Albertsons and Safeway merged in 2014. She fears it will happen again if this merger is approved.
“We came to work, and we didn’t know if we were going to have our jobs from one day to the next. They had managers come in and pack up product and terminate people, and it was just a really scary situation,” McMillian recalled. “There were several store closures and lots of people actually lost their jobs. Of course, they told us everything is going to be fine, but it wasn’t — everything wasn’t fine.”
Cordova told FOX31 their fight is not over and they’re calling on the Biden administration and the Federal Trade Commission to stop the merger. She added they want both grocers to succeed but in separate entities.
If approved by antitrust regulators, the deal is expected to close in early 2024.