Sacramento, CA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council applauded Governor Gavin Newsom for signing AB 647 (Holden), the Protect Grocery Workers Job Act, into law. AB 647 will protect grocery and pharmacy workers’ jobs by strengthening California’s existing Statewide Grocery Worker Retention Law. 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.
“UFCW members applaud Governor Newsom’s support on AB 647 to expand the protections California’s Grocery Worker Retention Law provides to warehouse workers and ensures that communities won’t lose good jobs if a merger occurs,” said Joe Duffle, president, UFCW Local 1167. “Now grocery workers can be certain their rights will be enforced if their store closes because of a merger or acquisition. By signing this bill into law, it shows essential grocery workers that California still values them.”
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.
In Los Angeles and Orange Counties alone, 115 of 159 Albertsons stores are within two miles of a Kroger store and are potential targets of closures by the Federal Trade Commission. This could result in an estimated 5,750 jobs being lost in the Los Angeles region. A merger between these two companies could result in large scale layoffs for workers, grocery stores closing down, particularly in food deserts and rural areas, increasing food costs, and a reduction in a variety of products, including seasonal, organic, and climate-friendly plant-based foods for consumers.
AB 647 (Holden) 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 853 (Maienschein), Californians’ Right to Know on Essential Goods and Services. California residents and workers must have the right to know about proposed mergers in the Grocery and Drug-Retail industries that affect the supply and affordability of food and medicine and the supply of experienced grocery retail workers with knowledge of food safety and licensed pharmacy staff entrusted with supplying safe and accurate medications and clinical services to ailing Californians. AB 853 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, such as food deserts, food prices, and access to food, and workers, such as supply of experienced grocery workers, unemployment, wages and benefits and more. Governor Newsom also signed AB 853 today, Sunday, October 8, 2023.
- 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 a one-week displaced grocery worker allowance for every year of service. This bill is still awaiting action from the Governor.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 8, 2023
Contact: Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620, [email protected]