Workers and community members form a picket line outside a Denver King Soopers, after United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 began a strike over stalled labor negotiations on Jan. 12, 2021. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)
Colorado Treasurer Dave Young on Wednesday became the latest elected official in the state to formally oppose the proposed $24.6 billion merger between supermarket giants Kroger and Albertsons.
In a joint letter to the Federal Trade Commission, Young, a Democrat, and six other state treasurers wrote that the deal would threaten “the long-term economic security of our states” by undermining union bargaining power, depressing wages and making essential goods and services less accessible in many communities.
“I fully expect the CEOs and boards of Kroger and Albertsons … to cut costs and return increased shareholder value, as that’s their primary job,” Young said in a statement. “My job and that of the FTC, is to look out for the public good. The risks this merger poses to the public, our workers, and families here in Colorado and across the country, far outweigh the benefit to the shareholders of Kroger and Albertsons.”
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Kroger, which operates King Soopers and City Markets stores in Colorado, and Albertsons, which owns Safeway, are two of the country’s largest grocery chains, and together would control roughly a quarter of the industry market share nationally if the merger, first proposed last year, is approved.
In some states and cities, including many rural communities in Colorado, the two companies’ combined market share would be far higher. Consumers, workers and agricultural producers in towns where Kroger and Albertsons dominate the grocery market — including Grand Junction, Gunnison, Edwards, Longmont and Woodland Park — have expressed concerns about the merger in a series of “listening sessions” hosted this year by Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser.
Weiser’s office is leading a multi-state investigation into the merger’s potential impacts. If he concludes it violates anti-trust laws, he said last month, he has the “the authority and the obligation” to challenge the deal in court.
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, the union representing Colorado grocery workers at both Kroger and Albertsons stores, has urged regulators to block the deal. A study by the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, estimated the merger could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost wages annually for more than 746,000 workers.
In addition to Young, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, also a Democrat, also joined her counterparts in other states last week in writing to the FTC to oppose the merger.
“Massive corporate consolidations raise prices and put an even greater burden on American families who are already struggling to pay bills and keep food on the table,” Griswold said in a statement. “The Federal Government must step in to ensure that corporate greed does not result in executives and shareholders enriching themselves while hardworking Americans pay artificially high prices for basic necessities.”
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