Union opposes Kroger-Albertsons grocery merger

Kroger and Albertsons hope to finalize a merger in early 2024, but a union representing 22,000 employees is standing in the way.
Kroger grocery exterior.
Posted at 2:25 PM, Jun 13, 2023

Teamsters said they oppose a proposed merger between grocery chains Kroger and Albertsons following discussions with the two companies. 

In October, the two large chains said they plan to merge. In a statement, Kroger said the mega-chain would hold nearly 5,000 locations in 48 states.

Kroger has claimed that merging the two companies would allow it to expand its footprint and "serve more of America with fresh and affordable food." The two companies say that combining operations would increase efficiency, especially for their private-label brands.

But Teamsters said they are concerned about their members' job security. The union says it represents 22,000 members across both companies' stores, distribution centers, and manufacturing plants nationwide. 

"Kroger and Albertsons management likes to talk the talk on job security when they're sitting in front of Congress, but talk means little when it comes to protecting our members," said Teamsters General President Sean M. O'Brien. "We expected better from these two longtime Teamster employers. Clearly, they are more interested in guaranteeing big payouts for management." 

Kroger said it expects the merger to be completed by early 2024. In the meantime, the merger is going through regulatory approval. 

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In November, leaders from Kroger and Albertsons testified in support of the merger before a skeptical Congressional panel. Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen stated the merger would be beneficial to employees. 

"We also committed $1 billion to continue raising associate wages and comprehensive, industry-leading benefits, including quality and affordable health care, continuing education, wellbeing, and financial literacy programs," he said. "Kroger employs one of America's largest unionized workforces, and this merger secures the long-term future of union jobs by establishing a more competitive alternative to large, non-union retailers."

Teamsters said they want to secure long-term contracts with the mega-chain ahead of the merger. 

"In our discussions with Kroger and Albertsons, we made clear that our members need more than vague promises about their future," said Tom Erickson, Teamsters International vice president. "If either company were truly sincere about protecting our members, they would agree to recognize our existing union contracts, or agree to successorship language for any of our member units sold to third parties, once the merger is complete."

Kroger reacted to Teamsters' announcement in a statement. 

“We have and will continue to engage constructively with the Teamsters regarding the merger benefits and our divestiture plan, which includes no store closures or frontline associate layoffs as a result of the transaction," Kroger said. "The merger is a win for our associates, customers and communities. The only parties who would benefit if this merger is not completed are large, non-unionized competitors such as Walmart and Amazon.”