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UFCW Local Unions Disappointed by Washington State Supreme Court Ruling to Allow Albertsons Massive $4 Billion Dividend as Part of Proposed Mega Merger

Jointly Issued Press Statement by : 

UFCW 3000 of WA & Northern ID
UFCW 400 of MD, DC, VA, WV, KY, OH, & TN
UFCW  7 of CO & WY
UFCW 770 of Southern CA
UFCW 5 of Northern CA
UFCW 324 of Orange County, CA and Southern Los Angeles County
UFCW 367 of South Puget Sound, WA
Teamsters 38 of Snohomish County, WA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1/17/23

Contact:

Bertha Rodriguez, Bertha.Rodriguez@ufcw770.org, (213) 453-6276 

Los Angeles,CA (January 17, 2023) – Today, a coalition of local unions representing 100,000 Kroger and Albertsons workers in twelve states and the District of Columbia issued the following statement after a Washington court ruled to terminate a temporary restraining order and allow Albertsons to issue an up to $4 billion payout to shareholders:

“We are disappointed to see a ruling that favors a small number of ultra-wealthy shareholders over the many thousands of essential workers and millions of Americans who will be left to suffer the consequences of the outright financial looting of Albertsons. Despite this setback that allows the $4 billion dividend to be issued, the delay allowed the United States Senate to scrutinize the dividend payment as well as the mega-merger, and alerted the public to the disastrous consequences if the merger were to go through. We applaud Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his staff for their efforts fighting to protect our members and the communities we serve. Our unions will not stop working to protect our members and our communities from the harmful impacts of this proposed mega-merger of Kroger and Albertsons. It is now even more important that the Federal Trade Commission take swift and decisive action to block the acquisition.”

Background:

From the first day the proposed merger was announced, UFCW Local 5, UFCW Local 7, UFCW Local 324, UFCW Local 367, UFCW Local 400, UFCW Local 770, UFCW Local 1442, UFCW Local 3000 and Teamsters 38 have been taking action to intervene and stop this devastating deal.

On November 1st, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to stop the payout and a temporary restraining order was granted through December 9th.

On Tuesday November 29 the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held a hearing to scrutinize the proposed Kroger/Albertsons mega merger, along with an alarming, up to $4 billion “special dividend” announced by Albertsons in connection with the merger agreement. In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging the agency to intervene, more than two dozen antitrust experts and local unions representing Albertsons’ workers decried the payout as “nothing less than an out-and-out looting of the company” and a brazen attempt to destabilize the company ahead of regulatory review of the merger. 

On December 9th, the Superior Court Judge in King County Washington ruled against issuing a preliminary injunction, but delayed the effect of the decision until December 19th to allow time for an appeal by the WA AG to be considered by the State Supreme Court. On December 16th, the WA State Supreme Court issued a ruling granting the State AG’s Injunctive Relief and extended the Temporary Restraining Order on the Albertsons dividend until further order of the court.

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Sindicatos de UFCW Decepcionados por la Decisión de Corte Suprema que Permite a Albertsons Pago Masivo de $4 Mil Millones en Dividendos

Declaración Conjunta de los sindicatos: 

UFCW 3000 de WA & Norte de ID

UFCW 400 de MD, DC, VA, WV, KY, OH, & TN

UFCW  7 de CO & WY

UFCW 770 del Sur de CA

UFCW 5 del Norte de CA

UFCW 324 del Condado de Orange, CA y Sur del Condado de LA 

UFCW 367 de Sur Puget Sound, WA

Teamsters 38 del Condado de Snohomish, WA

PARA DIFUSIÓN INMEDIATA 1/17/23

Contacto:

Bertha Rodriguez, Bertha.Rodriguez@ufcw770.org, (213) 453-6276 (UFCW Local 770)

Los Angeles,CA (Enero 17, 2023) – Hoy, una coalición de sindicatos de UFCW que representan a 100,000 empleados de Kroger y Albertsons en doce estados y el Distrito de Columbia emitieron la siguiente declaración después de que una corte de Washington ordenara terminar una orden de restricción temporal que permite a Albertsons dar a sus accionistas un pago de hasta $4 mil millones de dólares:

“Estamos decepcionados al ver una decisión que favorece a un número pequeño de accionistas ultra-ricos por encima de varios miles de trabajadores esenciales y millones de Americanos que sufrirán las consecuencias del completo saqueo financiero de Albertsons. A pesar de este revés que permite que el dividendo de $4 mil millones sea pagado, la demora permitió al Senado de Estados Unidos analizar el pago de dividendos así como la anunciada fusión y alertó al público de las consecuencias desastrosas si la consolidación es aprobada.  Aplaudimos al Fiscal General del Estado de Washington, Bob Ferguson y su equipo por sus esfuerzos de luchar para proteger a nuestros miembros y a las comunidades que servimos. Nuestras uniones no dejarán de trabajar para proteger a nuestros miembros y comunidades de los impactos nocivos de la fusión propuesta de Kroger y Albertsons. Ahora es mucho más importante que la Comisión Federal de Comercio (FTC) tome una acción oportuna y decisiva para bloquear la adquisición”.

Antecedentes:

Desde el primer día que la propuesta fusión fue anunciada, los Locales sindicales de UFCW 7,324,367, 400,770, 1442 y 3000 así como los Teamsters Local 38, han estado tomando acción para intervenir y parar este devastador acuerdo.

El 1 de noviembre, el Fiscal General del estado de Washington, Bob Ferguson, interpuso una demanda legal en una corte estatal buscando parar el pago de dividendos y una orden de restricción temporal fue otorgada y con vigencia hasta el 9 de diciembre.

El martes 29 de noviembre, un Subcomité Judicial del Senado de Estados Unidos llevó a cabo una audiencia para analizar la mega fusión de Kroger/Albertsons, junto con el alarmante “dividendo especial” de $4 mil millones anunciado por Albertsons en conexión con el acuerdo de consolidación. En una carta a la Comisión Federal de Comercio (FTC) urgiendo a la agencia a intervenir, más de dos docenas de expertos y locales sindicales representando a los trabajadores de Albertsons denunciaron el pago como “nada menos que un absoluto saqueo de la compañía” y un intento descarado de desestabilizar a la compañía en anticipación a la revisión reguladora de la consolidación.

El 9 de diciembre, el Juez de la Corte Superior del Condado de King en Washington, dictaminó en contra emitiendo una orden preliminar pero aplazó el efecto de la decisión hasta el 19 de diciembre para permitir tiempo para una apelación por parte del Fiscal General de Washington a ser considerada por la Corte Suprema del Estado. El 16 de diciembre, la Corte Suprema del Estado de Washington dictaminó una orden otorgando al Fiscal General del Estado, Medidas Cautelares, y extendió la Orden de Restricción Temporal sobre el dividendo de Albertsons hasta nueva orden de la corte.

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UFCW Local Unions Commend Attorneys General for Working to Halt Albertsons Cash Grab

ATTORNEYS GENERAL FROM DC, CALIFORNIA AND ILLINOIS SEEKING PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION TO HALT ALBERTSONS DIVIDEND

Los Angeles, CA (December 1, 2022) – Today, the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) local unions including Local 5, Local 7, Local 324, Local 367, Local 400, Local 770, Local 1442, Local 3000, and Teamsters 38, which represent 100,000 grocery workers at Kroger and Albertsons-owned stores across twelve states and the District of Columbia, issued the following statement regarding a motion filed today by Attorneys General from DC, California and Illinois seeking a preliminary injunction to halt an up to $4 billion special dividend payout planned by Albertsons:

“We commend the action of California Attorney General Rob Bonta, as well as the Attorneys General of Illinois and the District of Columbia, for working to halt this brash attempt to loot Albertsons by a handful of ultra-wealthy board members and shareholders. If allowed to occur, this up to $4 billion payout would leave the company largely depleted of liquid assets and in a precarious financial position moving forward. Destabilizing Albertsons in this manner puts the livelihoods of thousands of essential workers at risk and jeopardizes food access for the customers and communities we serve. Moreover, by rushing to issue this unprecedented special dividend, Albertsons is seemingly making a brazen attempt to game the system before federal regulators have a chance to complete a review of the company’s proposed merger with Kroger. We applaud the action of the Attorneys General for refusing to back down and working to address this looming crisis before it’s too late.”

Background: Today’s motion is the latest in a series of ongoing efforts to scrutinize the proposed Kroger/Albertsons merger, along with an alarming, up to $4 billion “special dividend” announced by Albertsons in connection with the merger agreement. On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights held a hearing to question the CEOs of both grocery giants and expressed skepticism that the deal would benefit consumers. In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging the agency to intervene, more than two dozen antitrust experts and local unions representing Albertsons’ workers decried the payout as “nothing less than an out-and-out looting of the company” and a brazen attempt to destabilize the company ahead of regulatory review of the merger. Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to stop the payout and a temporary restraining order was granted through December 9th until the matter can get a full hearing on antitrust grounds.


Senate Committee Hearing Examining the Proposed Kroger-Albertsons Merger

Members of a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee panel raised concerns during a Tuesday hearing that a proposed merger between two of the largest U.S. supermarket chains could mean a monopoly on groceries and lead to higher food prices for Americans.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat who chairs the Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights grilled the CEOs of the Kroger Co., based in Cincinnati, and Albertsons Companies, Inc., based in Boise, Idaho. The two companies are attempting to merge.

“Over the last decade, the grocery industry has become increasingly consolidated, with the top four chains now making up more than two-thirds of all grocery sales,” Klobuchar said. “A lack of competition in the industry means higher prices and lower quality.”

Klobuchar and Sen. Alex Padilla, a California Democrat, grilled McMullen on how he expected Kroger to keep its grocery prices low if the company took out its biggest competitor, Albertsons, arguing that Kroger would not have an incentive to keep prices low without competition.

Watch the full hearing below


UFCW Members meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders

UFCW 770 members spoke with Senator Bernie Sanders about the devastating Kroger-Albertsons merger and just how bad it would be for workers, consumers and food suppliers. He listened to our concerns an voiced his support for workers in opposing the merger. We were joined by fellow union members and leaders from UFCW Local 5, UFCW Local 7R, UFCW 324, UFCW Local 400, and UFCW 3000.

“We had the opportunity to meet with Senator Bernie Sanders. He listened to our stories and expressed his concern for us; he assured us that he will do everything possible to help us. He is on our side and that was an amazing thing to hear,” said Lulu Berg who was part of the delegation of four members representing UFCW 770. 

Lulu Berg works at a Camarillo Vons store and she joined fellow grocery store employees working at Kroger and Albertsons-owned supermarkets and who are members of other UFCW local unions from twelve states and the District of Columbia. 

Lulu spoke at a press conference that the workers held on the Capitol Hill. She talked about the struggle she experienced when her store underwent a merger in 2015. “If approved, this is going to be a bigger merger and I’ll hate to see families going through that again. That’s why grocery store workers need to get together and fight to stop this merger.”


UFCW Local Unions Call on Regulators to Oppose Devastating Kroger-Albertsons Merger

Workers Highlighted Negative Impacts of Mega-Merger of Two Largest Standalone Grocers Ahead of Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing 

Washington, DC – Local United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Unions – representing 100,000 Kroger and Albertsons workers in twelve states and the District of Columbia – came together today in Washington, D.C. to demand regulators halt the proposed merger between the country’s two largest grocery chains. The workers detailed the devastating impacts that will befall workers, suppliers such as farmers and ranchers, and consumers if the merger is approved by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

“Essential grocery workers have strongly opposed this proposed merger from day one because we knew it would cause stores to close, jobs to be lost, and prices to go up,” said Faye Guenther, President of UFCW Local 3000. “It’s clear after this hearing that Kroger and Albertsons have no plan on how to run this proposed mega-company and are just saying whatever they can to get it approved by the FTC without regard for the working families they employ and serve. We’re glad Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) convened this hearing to really dig into the impacts of the merger on our communities and hold the CEOs accountable for workers’ livelihoods.”

Frontline essential workers spoke out before a hearing by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, where Senators scrutinized Kroger and Albertsons CEOs about the merger.

Local UFCW grocery members shared the following:

“In a few months, Haggen shut down. Thousands of my coworkers and I lost our jobs. I had to juggle two jobs: cleaning houses and waitressing to be able to pay my bills and feed my family,” said Lugretzia Berg, a UFCW 770 member and a Vons (Albertsons) Front End Supervisor from Camarillo, California whose store closed as part of the 2014 Albertsons-Vons merger. “We were all put on a waiting list to get our jobs back at Vons. We had to reapply for a new position. My coworkers were unemployed for a year or more and some never got their jobs back. Others came back at a lower wage rate and have never been able to recover the standard of living they had before that merger. We don’t want to go through the same devastating experience again.”

“I’m scared of what this merger will mean for me as a worker, and what happens to my job when hundreds and hundreds of local grocery stores are closed,” said Andres Becerril, a Front End Supervisor at King Soopers (Kroger) for 12 years and member of UFCW Local 7. “But this is not just about me. The merger would create a ripple effect for potentially tens of thousands of grocery employees and their families: lost wages, lost benefits like hard earned pension plans, lost healthcare coverage, and higher grocery prices. Our local suppliers, farmers and ranchers, who create jobs in Colorado and Wyoming, will also be hurt as this new mega company will control shelf prices with no competition. we call on the FTC to hear our concerns and stop the merger.”

“This merger is based on pure greed;I want the executives and Wall Street bankers who cooked it up to know how devastating it will be for both workers and customers,” said Judy Wood, a cake decorator at Albertsons for 34 years and a member of UFCW Local 324. “The stores are going to raise prices without consequence because they won’t face competition. Kroger will close down stores that are too close to one another, putting customers out of options and workers out of jobs. It’s estimated over 5700 workers could lose their jobs just in Southern California. So we need to do everything we can to fight this merger.”

“Over the last three years, we have lived through the COVID experience and me and co-workers have served our community and served our employers and provided essential services in a time of crisis. We have all helped make our stores run,” said Naomi Oligario, a Front end Checker at Safeway (Albertsons) for 37 years and a member of UFCW Local 3000. “We are all concerned with this proposed merger and the $4 Billion giveaway to rich shareholders instead of investing in us – the workers who helped make the profits. We need safer stores, our customers need lower prices, we need more competition – not less.”

“These private equity guys are not from the grocery industry. They have never worked in one of our stores. They do not know or care about our business – all they care about is making money for themselves,” said Jane St. Louis, a Front End Associate at Safeway (Albertsons) and a member of UFCW 400. “And now, they are trying to give themselves a $4 billion payday before this merger is even reviewed by the FTC. What does my future hold working for a company without any money? How will Safeway keep its promise to fund our pension? You can see why workers like me are worried.


Sign the Letter Urging the FTC to Oppose the Kroger/Albertsons Merger and Halt the Albertsons Special Dividend

Kroger – Ralphs and Food4Less’ parent company — wants to acquire Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions companies for $24.6 billion. As part of their proposed merger, they want to give away $4 billion to Albertsons shareholders. This money could be used to lower prices, pay workers a fair wage, make stores safer and hire more staff. Customers and workers must stand together to stop this merger! Please sign below to urge the FTC to oppose the Kroger/Albertsons Merger and Halt the Albertsons Special Dividend.

Read the full letter here: https://bit.ly/3E2jSwH

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