WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 8, 2022) – Today, the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 union, which represents 20,000 grocery workers at Kroger and Albertsons-owned Safeway stores in the Mid-Atlantic region, issued the following statement regarding Judge Carl Nichols’ decision to deny a motion for a temporary restraining order to halt Albertsons planned special dividend:
“It is unfortunate that Judge Nichols came down on the side of a handful of ultra-wealthy board members and shareholders instead of the countless essential workers whose livelihoods are threatened by this outright looting of Albertsons. To be clear, the unprecedented $4 billion special dividend sought by Albertsons remains halted under a temporary restraining order issued by a King County Superior Court commissioner in Washington state and today’s ruling has no bearing on that case. We applaud Attorney General Karl Racine and his staff for standing up for grocery workers and American consumers by bringing this lawsuit to fruition. We will continue to put every resource at our disposal to prevent this cash grab and protect the thousands of union workers who will be left out in the cold if this deal goes through.”
In October, Albertsons announced an up to $4 billion “special dividend” scheduled for Monday, November 7 in connection with its proposed merger agreement with Kroger, to the alarm of many unions and antitrust experts. UFCW Local 400, along with a coalition of two dozen other organizations, decried the payout as “nothing less than an out-and-out looting of the company” in a letter sent last week to the Federal Trade Commission urging the agency to intervene.
Today’s ruling follows a lawsuit filed last week by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, along with the attorneys general of California and Illinois, seeking a temporary restraining order to block the special dividend, describing it as a “cash grab” that “would have a particularly devastating impact on struggling people and families with access to fewer grocery stores during a time of historically high inflation.”
In addition to that lawsuit, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a suit in state court seeking to stop the payout. Last Thursday, King County Superior Court Commissioner Henry Judson approved a temporary restraining order blocking Albertsons from paying the special dividend while the court determines if the payout violates state antitrust laws.
United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 is led by President Mark Federici and represents 35,000 members working in the grocery, retail, health care, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. www.ufcw400.org