Local union files labor practice charges against Kroger and Albertsons over ‘no poaching agreement’

Kroger Albertsons
Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo
A customer removes her purchases at a Kroger grocery store in Flowood, Miss., Wednesday, June 26, 2019,

Updated at 8:20 p.m. on Feb. 2, 2024.

A union representing workers at local grocery stores filed unfair labor practice charges against grocery store chains Kroger and Albertsons Thursday due to an alleged illegal "no poaching" agreement between the two grocery chains.

The complaint was filed by UFCW Local 7 with the National Labor Relations Board. It came a day after Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser filed a lawsuit asking the Denver District Court to block a proposed $24.6 billion merger between the two chains. In that suit, Weiser revealed that a year-long investigation by his office discovered an alleged agreement between the two grocery companies to not hire each other’s employees. 

“The fact that the companies entered into such agreements and thought they could get away with it underscores why competition matters to consumers, to workers, to farmers, and to our communities,” Weiser said at a press conference Wednesday. “It also demonstrates why it's so important that we have vigilant antitrust enforcement.”

Weiser said that Kroger, the parent company of King Soopers, entered into the agreement over concerns of losing employees during the 10-day strike by King Soopers workers last year. The AG’s lawsuit also seeks $1 million in civil penalties. 

In a statement, the union said it was “dismayed to learn through AG Weiser’s Complaint that Kroger and Albertsons entered into an unlawful agreement during Local 7’s 2022 strike against King Soopers.”

“Despite what these companies might say publicly about their motivations or the professed positives of this merger, their actions show otherwise,” President of UFCW Local 7 Kim Cordova said in a release. “The leaders of these companies cannot be trusted to do right by their employees or customers.”

Meanwhile, UFCW Local 7 said workers for Safeway were also negotiating new contracts with parent company Albertsons at the time of the agreement. The Union says they believed those negotiations were happening in “seemingly good faith” and accused the companies of using the agreement to “gain leverage in contract negotiations” with workers. 

Kroger denied the allegations.

“It is disheartening for Coloradans that General Weiser would mischaracterize the facts," a Kroger spokesperson said in an email. "There was not then, and there is not now, non-solicitation or so-called no-poach agreements between Kroger and Albertsons. Employees at both companies regularly join our teams from – and exit our companies for opportunities to work at Albertsons, Kroger, Walmart, Amazon, Costco and other retailers as well as restaurants, food service companies, convenience stores, warehouses and more.”

Kroger operates 148 King Soopers and City Markets grocery stores in Colorado and is the largest chain in the state. Albertsons has 105 Safeway and Albertsons stores and is the state’s third-largest grocery chain.

Albertsons was not immediately available for comment. 

This story will be updated. 

CPR’s Tony Gorman contributed to this report.

Editor's Note: Safeway is a financial supporter of CPR, but has no editorial influence.