Despite growing economic anxiety, historic rates of inflation, and pending fears of recession brought on by rising food and consumer prices, Kroger and Albertsons continue to tout the supposed benefits of a corporate merger that would create one of the largest supermarket companies in the world. The big question that The Citizens of Alaska need to ask themselves is this – who will truly benefit from such a merger, customers and essential grocery workers or the Kroger and Albertsons corporate leaders?
The problem for Kroger and Albertsons is that when you look at the facts that are available, all those who truly care about our local communities across Alaska should be deeply concerned. Consider a recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, that found that the merger will lower wages for 746,000 grocery store workers in over 50 metropolitan areas of the U.S. Even worse, Grocery workers could lose over $300 million dollars in wages each year if the proposed merger went through due to lack of competition. In total, this would result in lost wages for these essential workers and would negatively impact wages for all grocery workers - regardless of whether they are employed by Kroger or Albertsons.
Additionally, the United Food & Commercial Workers union - which represents hundreds of thousands of essential grocery workers, including over 2,000 here in Alaska - has for months been working tirelessly to make an independent assessment of the proposed merger and how it will affect our communities, our customers, our members, and all essential grocery workers. The problem is that our panel of independent experts can’t fully analyze the impact of the Kroger and Albertsons merger because these companies continue to deny, delay, and block providing the very data that would prove this merger’s benefits. That is unacceptable and begs the question – what are they hiding?
Given all that our communities and citizens have endured over these many years, we deserve to know whether such a massive merger will raise food prices even higher than the current record levels, or whether it will lead to local grocery store closures, or how essential grocery workers’ jobs, wages, and benefits will be impacted. In the absence of unbiased facts, one must conclude that this merger is bad for Alaska, for workers, and for America.
For the UFCW, the absence of facts has led our 1.3 million members, many of which are your local grocery workers, to unanimously pass a resolution against this merger. In addition, we have seen Republican, Democrat, and Independent elected leaders speak to the negative impact this merger would have on our nation including Joelle Hall -Alaska’s AFL-CIO President
As another sign of the momentum against the merger, a wider array of consumer watchdogs and other organizations have also voiced their opposition to this mega merger, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Accountable.US, Casa Latina, HEAL Food Alliance, the National Farmers Union, the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, the National Family Farm Coalition, Farm Action, Open Markets Institute, Faith Action Network, the National Employment Law Project, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and the American Economic Liberties Project.
Truth be told, the time has come for all of us – regardless of our politics – to stand together against any merger that would needlessly raise food prices during a period of high inflation or hurt the very customers and essential workers that made these companies successful.
For the sake of our community, the Kroger and Albertsons merger must be stopped, and doing so begins with Alaska Citizens joining with millions of others to voice their opposition of this merger to their local, state, and federal leaders.