Jointly Issued Press Statement by :
UFCW 3000 of WA & Northern ID
UFCW 400 of MD, DC, VA, WV, KY, OH, & TN
UFCW 7 of CO & WY
UFCW 770 of Southern CA
UFCW 5 of Northern CA
UFCW 324 of Orange County, CA and Southern Los Angeles County
UFCW 367 of South Puget Sound, WA
Teamsters 38 of Snohomish Country, WA
SEATTLE, WA (January 17, 2023) – Today, a coalition of local unions representing 100,000 Kroger and Albertsons workers in twelve states and the District of Columbia issued the following statement after a Washington court ruled to terminate a temporary restraining order and allow Albertsons to issue an up to $4 billion payout to shareholders:
“We are disappointed to see a ruling that favors a small number of ultra-wealthy shareholders over the many thousands of essential workers and millions of Americans who will be left to suffer the consequences of the outright financial looting of Albertsons. Despite this setback that allows the $4 billion dividend to be issued, the delay allowed the United States Senate to scrutinize the dividend payment as well as the mega-merger, and alerted the public to the disastrous consequences if the merger were to go through. We applaud Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his staff for their efforts fighting to protect our members and the communities we serve. Our unions will not stop working to protect our members and our communities from the harmful impacts of this proposed mega-merger of Kroger and Albertsons. It is now even more important that the Federal Trade Commission take swift and decisive action to block the acquisition.”
Today’s ruling concludes a series of efforts to halt an alarming, up to $4 billion “special dividend” announced by Albertsons in connection with a merger agreement with Kroger. The proposed merger is currently under regulatory review by the Federal Trade Commission and has been met with a public outcry from lawmakers, labor organizations, and advocates. Since the proposed merger was announced, UFCW Local 5, UFCW Local 7, UFCW Local 324, UFCW Local 367, UFCW Local 400, UFCW Local 770, UFCW Local 1442, UFCW Local 3000 and Teamsters 38 have been taking action to intervene and stop this devastating deal.
On November 1, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to stop the payout, and a temporary restraining order was granted through December 9. On December 9, a Superior Court Judge in King County Washington ruled against issuing a preliminary injunction, but delayed the effect of the decision until December 19 to allow time for an appeal by the WA Attorney General to be considered by the State Supreme Court. On December 16, the WA State Supreme Court issued a ruling granting the State AG’s Injunctive Relief and extended the Temporary Restraining Order on the Albertsons dividend until further order of the court. Today’s decision terminated that Temporary Restraining Order, permitting Albertsons to issue its exorbitant dividend.
On Tuesday, November 29, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held a hearing to scrutinize the proposed Kroger/Albertsons mega merger, along with the alarming, up to $4 billion “special dividend” announced by Albertsons in connection with the merger agreement. In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging the agency to intervene, more than two dozen antitrust experts and local unions representing Albertsons’ workers decried the payout as “nothing less than an out-and-out looting of the company” and a brazen attempt to destabilize the company ahead of regulatory review of the merger.
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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