Seattle DSA joins with tens of thousands of grocery store workers in UFCW to oppose the proposed $24.6 billion acquisition of Albertsons Companies, Inc. by Kroger Company. On behalf of the whole Chapter, the Seattle DSA Labor Working Group and our elected Local Council both voted to endorse UFCW’s Stop the Merger campaign.
The proposed merger and subsequent consolidations threatens widespread layoffs, alongside downward pressure on wages, benefits and working conditions, increased food prices, and the expansion of food deserts in lower-income communities.
This merger highlights the predatory nature of ballooning private equity firms in recent years, which are intensifying the monopolistic tendencies of global capitalism. Consolidation within the grocery market concentrates power and wealth in the hands of a few large corporations, worsening living and working conditions for workers.
Working class consumers will also suffer as monopolization deepens. So-called inflationary trends mask the practice of corporations hiking prices well above cost increases to maximize their profits. Consolidation will lead to more store closures that disproportionately impact lower-income communities.
In light of the negative impacts that this proposed merger would have on workers, consumers, communities, and the economy as a whole, we support UFCW’s efforts to block this merger. At the same time, we understand that the tendency toward monopolization is at the beating heart of capitalism. In the long run, there is no winning the fight against monopolization unless that is combined with a political strategy to take the largest corporations that dominate our economy under democratic public ownership, with unions exercising democratic control at the shop-floor level.
Affordable, healthy food is a basic essential in every community and should be treated as a human right rather than just another method to further enrich billionaire investors. In the US, 1 in 8 children go hungry, totalling 9 million last year.
Under capitalism, the entire for-profit food system is an utter disaster. Globally we’ve seen wave after wave of violent displacement of small farmers and indigenous communities to make way for environmentally destructive cash crops.
We cannot control what we do not own. There is no path to save our environment, to defend workers, or to protect consumers without taking big agribusiness, the big food distribution corporations, and big grocery store chains into public ownership and democratic control. Socialists should join with UFCW to fight this merger today, even as we campaign to raise working-class consciousness about the need for a deeper-going economic and political transformation to secure our shared goals of good living wage jobs, affordable and healthy food, and environmental sustainability.