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Alleged Collusion Between Kroger and Albertsons Against Grocery Workers’ Union

BusinessAlleged Collusion Between Kroger and Albertsons Against Grocery Workers' Union

Grocery Workers’ Union, often a battleground for workers’ rights, found itself embroiled in controversy as Colorado’s attorney general filed a lawsuit alleging illegal collusion between retail giants Kroger and Albertsons. The lawsuit, unveiled recently, claims that the two companies engaged in anti-competitive practices aimed at weakening the bargaining power of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7 during strikes and contract negotiations in 2022.

No-Poaching Agreements and Pharmacy Solicitation

As workers at 78 Kroger-owned King Soopers stores in Colorado were poised to strike in January 2022, executives from Albertsons reportedly reached out to their counterparts at Kroger, signaling a pact to refrain from hiring workers participating in the strike. In an email quoted in the lawsuit, Albertsons’ senior vice president of labor relations affirmed the company’s stance not to hire employees from King Soopers during the work stoppage. Additionally, it is alleged that Albertsons agreed not to solicit King Soopers customers to switch their prescriptions to Albertsons’ in-store pharmacies, a move that could have provided financial relief to striking workers.

Impact on the Grocery Workers’ Union – Diminished Bargaining Power

Colorado Attorney General Philip J. Weiser contends that these agreements were orchestrated to diminish the bargaining power of the UFCW Local 7, which led the King Soopers strike and was set to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with Albertsons-owned Safeway. Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7, lamented the potential missed opportunities, stating, “We will never know what concessions we could have got from these employers.”

The lawsuit seeks to block a proposed $25 billion merger between Kroger and Albertsons announced in 2022. Furthermore, it aims to prohibit any future no-poach agreements between the companies and calls for substantial civil penalties. Kroger has refuted the allegations, asserting that there were no such agreements between the two companies. However, the attorney general argues that the alleged collusion could have significant implications for workers’ rights and competition within the industry.

Implications for Workers and Consumers – Striking a Balance

The alleged collusion not only undermines the bargaining power of workers but also raises concerns about consumer welfare. Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticized the collusion, emphasizing that Kroger and Albertsons should be competitors striving for lower prices and higher wages. Kim Cordova echoed these sentiments, highlighting the potential impact on workers during strikes and the need for competition to ensure fair treatment and wages.

Upholding Fair Labor Practices

The allegations of collusion between Kroger and Albertsons underscore the challenges faced by workers in the grocery industry and the importance of maintaining competition to safeguard workers’ rights and consumer interests. As the legal battle unfolds, the outcome could have far-reaching implications for labor relations and competition within the retail sector. The lawsuit serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for fair treatment and the need for vigilance in combating anti-competitive practices that undermine workers’ rights and economic justice.


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