Denver, CO

Denver council may add 2 cents to Kroger-Albertson’s deal

David Heitz

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The Denver City Council will send the Federal Trade Commission a message, its own 2 cents, about the proposed acquisition of Albertson’s by Kroger.

Councilmember Debbie Ortega drafted a resolution that would urge the FTC to conduct its due diligence before approving the sale. She presented it Wednesday at the Business, Arts, Workforce and Aviation Services Committee meeting and again at Monday's City Council meeting.

“The acquisition threatens to create competition-stifling concentration in markets across the country, hurting consumers workers and small businesses raising several anti-competitive concerns,” the proclamation reads. “The consolidated grocery chain would control around 13% of the U.S. grocery market and up to 28% of the market in some regions of the country.”

According to the proclamation, the sale also could:

· Result in fewer product choices and higher costs for essential goods.

· Result in reduced wages for employees due to the absence of adequate employer competition

· Impair bargaining power for fair wages and safe working conditions

· Result in “homelessness and food insecurity for its workers” because “Kroger currently does not pay its workers steady, livable incomes.”

Ortega said King Sooper’s recently stopped accepting a certain type of insurance for prescriptions. That means some people will have to make a separate trip to a pharmacy, Ortega said. She worries such problems would multiply with even fewer grocers.

She also worries about Kroger controlling grocery wages. “Some of the workers already are people who rely on food banks to get their groceries,” Ortega said.

Council President Jamie Torres said she will vote in favor of the proclamation. “I definitely support this. These are the two largest chains in the city and competition is an important factor in getting what we need from both of them.”

Councilmember Chris Hinds, chair of the committee, lent the proclamation his support, too, saying our economy “is meant to have lots of private entities fighting against each other to provide the consumer the best choice.”

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

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