State treasurer joins call for FTC to oppose supermarket merger

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images via the Washington State Standard

State of Washington Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti and six other state treasurers are urging federal regulators to oppose a merger of the nation’s two largest grocery store chains.

The seven state officials sent a letter last week to the Federal Trade Commission warning of  “significant adverse effects” if Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket chain, is allowed to acquire Albertsons, the second largest, for $24.6 billion.

The letter raises concerns about lower pay for store employees, the potential for layoffs, reduced ability for workers to organize and negotiate on working conditions, and consolidation and store closures leaving communities with fewer or no shopping options.

“Corporate consolidation at this scale is bad for workers and consumers,” Pellicciotti, a Democrat, said in an email Thursday. “The tradeoff of narrow, short-term corporate profits at the expense of long-term impacts to wages and consumer costs only furthers the unsustainable imbalance of economic power.”

A primary concern raised in the letter is a reduction in wages for workers.

The treasurers cite an analysis by The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit left-of-center think tank, that concluded the merger could result in a total loss of $334 million in wages for 746,000 grocery store workers in more than 50 metropolitan areas. This works out to an average annual loss of about $450 per worker, the report says.

“We believe that the interests of our constituents and the long-term economic security of our states would be better served by opposing this merger,” the treasurers wrote.

Along with Pellicciotti, the letter was signed by the treasurers of Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and New Mexico.

The acquisition, announced in October, is staunchly opposed by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union which represents 100,000 Kroger and Albertsons workers.

— By Jerry Cornfield, Washington State Standard

Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Washington State Standard maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Bill Lucia for questions: Follow Washington State Standard on Facebook and Twitter.

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