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26 Feb 2024

Federal Trade Commission (USA)

FTC Challenges Kroger’s Acquisition of Albertsons

The Federal Trade Commission today sued to block the largest proposed supermarket merger in U.S. history—Kroger Company’s $24.6 billion acquisition of the Albertsons Companies, Inc.—alleging that the deal is anticompetitive.

The FTC charges that the proposed deal will eliminate fierce competition between Kroger and Albertsons, leading to higher prices for groceries and other essential household items for millions of Americans. The loss of competition will also lead to lower quality products and services, while also narrowing consumers’ choices for where to shop for groceries. For thousands of grocery store workers, Kroger’s proposed acquisition of Albertsons would immediately erase aggressive competition for workers, threatening the ability of employees to secure higher wages, better benefits, and improved working conditions...

Kroger and Albertsons are the two largest employers of union grocery labor in the United States. They actively compete against one another for workers. The two companies also try to poach grocery workers from each other, especially in local markets where they overlap. Currently, most workers for both supermarket chains are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union.

Today, UFCW and other unions leverage the fact that Kroger and Albertsons are separate and competing companies. Unions push for both supermarket chains to negotiate better employment terms for union grocery workers, especially when negotiating over collective bargaining agreements (CBAs).

A combined Kroger/Albertsons, however, would gain increased leverage over workers and their unions—to the detriment of workers, the FTC alleges. The combined Kroger and Albertsons would have more leverage to impose subpar terms on union grocery workers that slow improvements to wages, worsen benefits, and potentially degrade working conditions. In some regions, such as in Denver, the combined Kroger/Albertsons would be the only employer of union grocery labor. Union grocery workers ability to leverage the threat of a boycott or strike to negotiate better CBA terms would also be weakened...