Letter: Appalled by the proposed Kroger-Albertson merger
I am appalled by the proposed Kroger-Albertson merger and its impact on grocery workers in the San Luis Valley and throughout the state. Many will sink into poverty if stores are closed or divested, through no fault of their own. It’s especially unfair to the grocery worker retirees.
I was born and raised in Monte Vista and am proud to call the San Luis Valley my home. I am currently a paramedic in Monte Vista, but I retired from grocery work after over 30 years. I worked in the Monte Vista Safeway and in Alamosa for many years but eventually was sent all over the state because I was one of the top inventory control clerks. I enjoyed working with my fellow grocery workers across the state and helping people.
That is why this merger is personal to me. The impact on our retirement is going to be devasting. If these companies close hundreds of stores, and/or sell stores to other non-union companies, we retirees are going to suffer because as grocery workers lose their jobs en masse, there won’t be enough workers to contribute to the retirement fund and it will either go away or be drastically reduced.
If the stores sell to non-union grocery companies, they will have to honor our collective bargaining agreement which includes pensions but only until that agreement ends after a few years. After that, those stores could potentially turn into non-union shops and tell the employees, take it or leave it. The employees would have to organize to be back in the union and start from zero, which could take years, if at all successful. Meanwhile, they will have lower wages and will not have heath care or a pension fund to contribute to.
For the retirees, I don't think losing their pensions is fair because these grocery workers have planned and contributed to their pensions their entire careers to secure a way to survive post-retirement. It’s especially unfair for those retirees whose pension is their sole source of income, and the healthcare plan is their only medical coverage. They depend on it 100% and have worked their whole lives for it. And now it could disappear.
I want to let the people of the San Luis Valley know what is at stake for some of our older citizens, and what the impact of this merger will be on the economic stability, health and well-being of our community, including our local farmers and ranchers who will only lose in this deal. This newly combined company will pay them even less, pennies on the dollar even, for their fresh products that we all enjoy.
I urge my fellow citizens of the San Luis Valley to communicate to the Attorney General of Colorado and to the FTC to do the right thing by workers and retirees and stop the merger.