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Assembly Ensures Transparency for Grocery and Retail Mergers and Acquisitions

AB 853 Will Ensure Californians Know True Impact of Mergers and Acquisitions

Sacramento, CA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council applauded the California State Assembly for passing AB 853 (Maienschein), which will require grocery or drug-retail companies to notify the California Attorney General 180 days in advance of finalizing a proposed merger or acquisition and submit an impact analysis report on the impact of the merger or acquisition on communities, small businesses, the creation of food deserts, increases in food prices, and access to food, and workers. 

“The bigger businesses get, the harder it is for small businesses and mom and pop shops to survive. That’s why AB 853 is essential so California can shine a light on how any future merger or acquisition will impact the workforce, small businesses and the economy,” said Mark Ramos, president, UFCW Western States Council and UFCW Local 1428. “In my 30 plus years in the grocery industry, I have seen first hand how mergers can hurt workers, their families, and local communities. I’m glad the California Assembly saw the importance of this bill and helped protect grocery workers, pharmacy workers and the communities they serve.”

In October 2022, it was announced that Kroger and Albertsons would pursue a $24.6 billion mega-merger, joining together two of the largest grocery chains in the United States. Nationally, these two grocery chains employ over 700,000 workers and operate over 50 manufacturing facilities and 5,000 retail stores. California has more of these two grocery chains than any other state in the country, with Kroger operating approximately 233 stores under the Ralphs, Food 4 Less and Foods Co banners and Albertsons operating approximately 579 grocery stores under the Albertsons, Safeway, Vons and Pavilions banners.

AB 853 (Maienschein) is part of UFCW’s legislative package to mitigate the effects of mergers and acquisitions on the retail and grocery industries. The other two bills in the package are: 

  • AB 647 (Holden), Protect Grocery Workers Job Act, will protect grocery and pharmacy workers’ jobs by strengthening California’s existing Statewide Grocery Worker Retention Law and requiring recall and rehiring rights. This will ensure that skilled and trained workers can continue to provide our communities with access to safe food and lessen the economic impact to our social safety net. 
  • SB 725 (Smallwood-Cuevas), Grocery Worker Safety Net, which requires a grocery establishment who conducts layoffs as a result of a merger or acquisition to provide workers with one-week severance pay for every year of service. Without severance pay protections, the loss of this many jobs in one region will have ripple effects through the local economy and further burden an already tattered social safety net.

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May 30, 2023

Contact: Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620, [email protected]