It’s no secret that the marketplace for grocery shopping is changing, with consumers having more choices of where and how to shop than ever. Grocery stores and supermarkets have been joined by supercenters, club grocers, discount grocers, dollar stores and more. Online grocery sales have increased four-fold in the past four years. In the face of this rising competition, supermarket grocers like Albertsons and Kroger are struggling to compete with goliath companies like Walmart, Amazon, Target and Costco.

It’s no surprise that supermarket grocers would look at ways to increase their efficiency in order to better compete, such as the proposed merger of Albertsons and Kroger. What is surprising is Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is actively seeking to block this merger.

In an April press release, Ferguson said, “Free enterprise is built on companies competing, and that competition benefits consumers. My legal team and I will continue working to protect Washington consumers and workers from increased prices and fewer choices.”

If he were serious about protecting workers and consumers, he should support the Kroger-Albertsons merger, which includes the following commitments:

  • No store closures or front-line job losses
  • Assuming all collective bargaining agreements with industry-leading healthcare and pension benefits — both companies retain their unions.  Which is why UFCW 1555 is supporting this merger.  Keep in mind, Wal-Mart, Costco and Amazon are non-union. 
  • Allocating $1 billion to better wages, building on Kroger’s $2.4 billion wage improvement track record, and $21,000 tuition reimbursement for full- and part-time employees
  • Investing $1.3 billion in better stores, strengthening the jobs in those stores
  • Better prices on Day One, building on their $5 billion better price track over the past 20 years.

By completing the merger, consumers will have more choice as the two brands will be stronger financially and better positioned in the marketplace to compete with grocery supercenters.

Despite these facts, the Attorney General’s Office is so opposed he’s spending $2.5 million of your tax-payer dollars to block this merger.  According to Reuters, the money is being spent on the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson to block the $25 billion merger. The documents Reuters received show two partners at the firm are charging the state more than $1,100 an hour!  In spite of the reckless spending, Ferguson’s lawsuit has garnered him a lot of headlines.  One can’t help but wonder if this lawsuit is less about Washington State’s consumers and more about free publicity for Ferguson’s campaign for Governor.  Well, not free, you’re paying for it to the tune of $2.5 million.