WA treasurer joins call for FTC to oppose supermarket merger

By: - August 24, 2023 5:24 pm

Washington state Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti joined other state treasurers in asking federal regulators on Aug. 23, 2023 to oppose Kroger’s bid to acquire Albertsons. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Washington state Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti and six other state treasurers are urging federal regulators to oppose a merger of the nation’s two largest grocery store chains.

The seven state officials sent a letter Wednesday to the Federal Trade Commission warning of  “significant adverse effects” if Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket chain, is allowed to acquire Albertsons, the second largest, for $24.6 billion.

The letter raises concerns about lower pay for store employees, the potential for layoffs, reduced ability for workers to organize and negotiate on working conditions, and consolidation and store closures leaving communities with fewer or no shopping options.

“Corporate consolidation at this scale is bad for workers and consumers,” Pellicciotti, a Democrat, said in an email Thursday. “The tradeoff of narrow, short-term corporate profits at the expense of long-term impacts to wages and consumer costs only furthers the unsustainable imbalance of economic power.”

A primary concern raised in the letter is a reduction in wages for workers.

The treasurers cite an analysis by The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit left-of-center think tank, that concluded the merger could result in a total loss of $334 million in wages for 746,000 grocery store workers in more than 50 metropolitan areas. This works out to an average annual loss of about $450 per worker, the report says.

“We believe that the interests of our constituents and the long-term economic security of our states would be better served by opposing this merger,” the treasurers wrote.

Along with Pellicciotti, the letter was signed by the treasurers of Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and New Mexico.

In a statement, a Kroger spokesperson said the merger will result in better wages and benefits for workers and that the company “will not lay off any frontline associates or close any stores, distribution centers or manufacturing facilities as a result of this merger.”

“The only parties who would benefit if this merger is not completed are large, non-unionized competitors such as Walmart and Amazon,” the statement read.

The acquisition, announced in October, is staunchly opposed by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union which represents 100,000 Kroger and Albertsons workers.

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Jerry Cornfield
Jerry Cornfield

Jerry Cornfield joined the Standard after 20 years covering Olympia statehouse news for The Everett Herald. Earlier in his career, he worked for daily and weekly papers in Santa Barbara, California.