Why the Kroger-Albertsons Merger is a Looming Disaster
Two of America’s biggest grocery store chains, who control 16% of all grocery stores, are preparing to merge. It’s an impending disaster for workers and consumers.
Janet Wainwright: If the Kroger merger does go through, it could create the largest layoffs in the grocery store industry.
[NEWS CLIPS]: Two of America’s largest grocery store chains are preparing to merge, Kroger and Albertsons, and that deal is worth about $25 billion.
Safeway, Ralphs, Harris Teeter, and Shaws under the same corporate umbrella.
The merger would account for nearly 16% of all grocery stores in the U.S.
Janet Wainwright: Rodney says it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
Jane St. Louis: We are skeptical. When the CEOs are saying that the mergers will be smooth and there shouldn’t be any problems, it makes us uneasy, especially as employees who have been through mergers, we know that isn’t always the case.
Kroger-Albertsons Merger: A looming disaster for nearly 1 million workers
Janet Wainwright: Well, I was at the Senate hearing.
[Senate Hearing Clip of Sen. Amy Klobuchar]: This hearing examines the proposed transaction to merge two of our nation’s largest grocery stores. Mr. McMullen, he is the CEO and chairman of the board at Kroger.
Janet Wainwright: To actually sit there and listen to the lies that he told the Senate…
[Senate hearing clip of Rodney Mcmullen, CEO of Kroger]: This merger will enhance competition, lower prices, improve the customer experience, and create investments in our associates while securing the long-term future of union jobs.
Janet Wainwright: We see that as a lie. He hasn’t shown it. Kroger doesn’t care for the union. Krogrer doesn’t care for the employees. We don’t get bonuses from Kroger. Where has Rodney been since the pandemic? They couldn’t even give us COVID money. Rodney McMillion—I mean, I’m sorry, McMullen said that…
[Senate hearing clip of Rodney Mcmullen, CEO of Kroger]: Our associates obviously enable our success, and we are committed to investing in theirs.
Janet Wainwright: Do I believe any of it? No, I do not believe any of it because right now, the associates aren’t getting what they should get. Normally at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we get $100 on our Kroger card. Well, that helps out a lot of the associates, especially at Thanksgiving, I can buy my dinner for my family. It’s not gonna come out of my pocket. I can buy a little extra. This year, we didn’t get it. We’ve always gotten it. So since they announced the merger, Rodney cut us off.
[Senate hearing clip of Rodney Mcmullen, CEO of Kroger]: We will not close any stores, distribution centers, or manufacturing facilities, or lay off any frontline associates as a result of this merger.
Jane St. Louis: I know they say things like stores are not gonna close or employees are not gonna lose their jobs, but I’ve not been through a merger where that hasn’t happened, so I am very uneasy about it.
Jane worked at Safeway during the 2015 Albertsons-Safeway Merger.
[PBS News Clip]: Albertsons and Safeway merged in 2015, and a lot of the stores that were divested as part of that deal went to a company that ultimately wasn’t able to stay afloat.
Jane St. Louis: We merged right when we were fighting for our benefits, and that was a struggle. And I know that there were other stores that had closed down, people had lost their jobs.
[Senate hearing clip of Rodney Mcmullen, CEO of Kroger]: This transaction will secure union jobs.
Janet Wainwright: Rodney has never addressed us as a union, so for him to throw out the word, “these are going to be good union jobs,” it’s bull. He doesn’t care about the union.
Jane St. Louis: The union stores are in jeopardy because, from my understanding, it is cheaper to keep a non-union store running than a union store.
Kroger-Albertsons would become America’s largest private unionized employer.
And if history is any guide it will use that power against workers.
Janet Wainwright: If this big merger happens, I think it’s going to stagnant the workforce. He’s going to be able to control too many people’s wages.
Jane St. Louis: It affects our benefits, it could affect the pensions. We don’t know if the new company will take care of our pensions. I also carry my family on my health benefits, so not only is it just a paycheck.
[NBC News Clip]: I know there is concern that the merged company could divest a number of locations. There’s been some reporting in the New York Times on that. So there are some concerns about creating food deserts in parts of the US.
[PBS News Clip]: In terms of what would happen to workers, it depends where those stores go. If they get bought by strong companies, that might work out well. But there is precedent for that not working out quite that well.
Jane St. Louis: We only have two grocery stores in town. So if one of ours closes down, that leaves only one. That one grocery store could not hold everybody who lives in my community. Also, there are not any other real jobs to have in our community.
Many Kroger workers want the merger to be blocked in order to protect consumers and workers.
Janet Wainwright: We’re there for the consumer, we’ve been there through COVID for the consumer. Think about us when you hear about these mergers.
Jane St. Louis: These are not just jobs. These are careers. I started out just having a part time job, and 30 years later, it became a career.
Janet Wainwright: We have a voice and we want them to hear what’s really going on. Not what a business man is going to sit there and tell ya. Hear from us what goes on daily.