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27 Jan 2020

Josh Kosman, New York Post

Safeway owner Albertsons seeks IPO amid woes over underfunded pensions

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Supermarket giant Albertsons is looking to take itself public even as tensions escalate with unions and a powerful US agency over a soon-to-be insolvent pension plan... The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 112 Safeway stores in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, claims Safeway in its 2012 and 2016 worker agreements included a guarantee to cover one-third of all pension losses in the group plan... The union is already threatening a legal fight, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), the federal agency responsible for picking up the slack for failed pensions, is reviewing the matter.

... “In the event of the pension plan’s insolvency, the company would continue our contributions at our current contribution rate,” an Albertsons spokeswoman told The Post. “That said, this is vastly different from a suggestion that we would be required to pay the unfunded amount of the pension plan in addition to our ongoing contributions. That is neither required by law nor by any agreement we have with the union.”... "No matter how much Safeway wishes it weren’t so, this promise exists in writing, the company is bound by it, and we intend to hold them to it,” [a union] spokesman said of the agreement.

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