Grocery store giant Kroger announced a deal to buy rival Albertsons in a merger that could affect the supermarket chain’s estimated 290,000 employees across 2,300 stores.
Albertsons is the second largest supermarket company, with stores across the Western United States from Southern California to the Canadian border, and as far east as Colorado, including Vons and Safeway locations. Kroger is currently the largest chain, and currently has over 420,000 employees across 2,700 stores, including Ralphs, Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, and King Soopers.
The $24.6 billion merger could cause conflicts with overlapping markets in the western U.S. and could force as many as 375 locations to be closed or spun off into another company.
In response to the announcement, essential grocery store workers’ unions, including United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770 chapter, issued a joint statement saying the merger “would significantly harm local grocery store industries, essential grocery store workers, and customers across the western US from Southern California to the Canadian border to Colorado.”
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“The proposed merger of these two grocery giants is devastating for workers and customers alike and must be stopped,” said UFCW 770 Acting President Kathy Finn. “Just as our UFCW workers stood together to negotiate landmark new contracts with both Kroger and Albertsons/Safeway last year across the western US, we will stand united to fight for access to nutritious food, safe shopping experiences, and investments in good jobs in our communities.”
The UFCW statement went on to say that the proposed merger of two of the largest grocery companies in the nation “will no doubt create a monopoly in the grocery industry for many communities,” with one company owning a $47 billion market share.
“Essential UFCW grocery store workers emerged stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic, winning improved protections against the virus, store violence and other threats,” Finn said. “Standing together, we know our voices are stronger than the corporations’ anti-worker rhetoric.”
UFCW’s is encouraging administrative and elected officials to “step in and stop this merger and protect workers and consumers.”