Sen. Ron Wyden has joined Senate colleagues to push for accountability in a letter to Fred Meyer supermarket owner, Kroger, after the company’s shift to a new payroll system left thousands of workers across the country short on their paychecks.
Notably, Kroger is seeking to merge with Safeway supermarket parent, Albertsons.
“We are writing today regarding alarming new reports of Kroger’s involvement in the mistreatment of workers and consumers through widespread and unresolved wage theft. These reports indicate that ‘systemic and widespread errors’ by Kroger resulted in thousands of your employees experiencing delays and missing wages in their paychecks in late 2022,” Wyden and colleagues wrote to Kroger Chairman and CEO, Rodney McMullen. “Given your company’s record of anti-worker policies, and your ongoing attempt to push through a merger that would harm both consumers and workers, we are writing to request a full explanation of how your workers will be compensated for any lost or delayed wages, and how you will prevent future wage theft.”
The senators’ letter follows four class-action lawsuits alleging that Kroger, the country’s second-largest grocery chain, engaged in widespread wage theft.
“Even as your company was failing to address concerns about systemic wage theft, you have been pushing through a $24.6 billion merger with Albertsons Companies, Inc. that further threatens workers’ wages and jobs and hurts consumers by reducing competition among grocers,” the lawmakers continued. “This merger would exacerbate corporate consolidation in the grocery sector, and likely result in the shuttering of some stores across the country and the firing of workers from both Kroger and Albertsons.”
The letter concludes with the senators’ requesting a full accounting on how the widespread wage theft occurred and pressing the grocery giant on how it will compensate affected workers before any merger with Albertsons.
The letter was led by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Alongside Wyden, the letter was joined by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
The text of the letter is here.