Apples are displayed for sale at the produce area as customers browse grocery store shelves inside Kroger a Ralphs supermarket in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

As the president of UFCW Local 135, representing over 9,000 hardworking members at Kroger’s Ralphs and Food 4 Less and competing Albertsons and Vons in San Diego County, I firmly believe that our union’s mission is to protect our members and the communities they live in.

The proposed merger between Kroger and Albertsons, which would create the single largest grocery chain in the country, raises serious concerns for us. The past few years have been incredibly profitable for both companies, even during the pandemic when essential workers made painful sacrifices to keep our communities fed.

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If allowed to merge, this mega-supermarket corporation will have unprecedented control over the food supply-chain in America, potentially leading to increased food prices, store closures, stifled competition, and limited consumer choices.

The impact on essential workers is equally troubling. During the global health crisis, these dedicated workers kept stores open and communities fed, yet they may now face the risk of wage cuts or job losses. The Economic Policy Institute warns that one in four grocery workers in the United States, regardless of the chain they work for, could see their wages lowered if this merger is approved.

As a union representing essential grocery workers, we believe that no one should have to bear the burden of higher food prices or reduced wages to benefit the profits of Kroger and Albertsons.

The Federal Trade Commission has the power to prevent this mega-merger if it finds that it would harm consumers by substantially reducing competition or creating a monopoly. We urge the FTC to conduct a thorough review of the potential impacts on workers, communities, and the local economy before making a decision.

Our union has experienced the consequences of such mergers before. In 1997, after the merger between Safeway and Vons, UFCW Local 135 lost around 2,000 members and saw approximately 20 worksites closed down. We fear that the Kroger-Albertsons merger may further erode labor standards and jeopardize the livelihoods of our essential workers.

We call on the FTC and all consumers to take action now. Join our nationwide effort and text “Merger” to 23396 to send an email to the FTC, urging them to protect hardworking Americans from the potential negative effects of this megamerger.

Together, we can make a difference and safeguard the interests of our communities and families. The Kroger-Albertsons mega-merger must be stopped for the sake of our essential workers and consumers like you.

Todd Walters is president of UFCW Local 135, representing over 12,000 workers throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties in various fields including grocery and retail; health, pharmacy and dental; meat and sugar processing; casino service; and cannabis sales.