It was just about a week ago that the secretaries of state from seven states - Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont - have written to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan, calling for regulators to block Kroger's proposed $24.6 billion acquisition of Albertsons.
Now, seven state treasurers - from Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington - have weighed in the FTC, saying essentially the same thing.
As in the case of the secretaries of state, all the state treasurers are Democrats.
“We believe that this merger may have significant adverse effects on the financial well-being of the people of our states, and we respectfully request that the Federal Trade Commission oppose this merger,” the letter said.
The Messenger writes that "letter cited a study from May by the Economic Policy Institute that found the merger could potentially result in the loss of $334 million annually in wages for 746,000 grocery workers across 50 metropolitan areas. For each worker that is an average annual wage decrease of approximately $450.
"The state treasurers also raised concerns over potential layoffs and the negative impact the merger could have on workers’ ability to negotiate better wages and working conditions by changing jobs. 'A key aspect of successful negotiation lies in the workers' capacity to seek alternative employment options,' the treasurers wrote."
Both Kroger and Albertsons have pledged that there will be no layoffs of front line workers if the merger takes place.
- KC's View:
Right now we're watching the two sides of this issue trying to take control of the narrative. The back-and-forth will continue for the next few months as the FTC conducts its investigation and comes to a decision.
For the moment, I think, there will be more heat than light. I just hope there will be time in the process to have a nuanced discussion of varying approaches to public policy, talking about what antitrust and competition mean in 21st century America.