Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill that would provide severance to grocery workers in California who lose their jobs.
Kroger and Albertsons have a large footprint in California. Kroger owns 233 stores under the Ralphs, Food 4 Less, and Foods Co names while Albertsons lays claim to 579 stores operating as Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, and Pavilions.
The pending $24.6 billion merger involving the two stores would impact over 5,700 jobs. In Los Angeles County alone, 115 of the 159 Albertsons are within two miles of a Kroger.
Kroger and Albertsons have been saying all along that no jobs would be lost if the Federal Trade Commission approves the merger.
California’s Grocery Worker Retention law prohibits companies who merge or buy another grocer to terminate workers during the first 90 days, and a federal law, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, requires companies with 100 or more employees to provide a 60-day notice before layoffs.
Before the veto Newsom signed two House measures — one which requires grocery stores and pharmacies to notify the state attorney general 180 days before a merger kicks in and to provide details of the impact.
The other bill adds some bulk to the Grocery Worker Retention law by expanding the 90-day retention to include warehouse workers. Grocers also now have 33 days to resolve any conflict with a worker before they can sue.
However, California grocery workers say they want additional protections, and the bill that Newsome vetoed would have provided one week of severance pay for every year they were employed by the retailer upon termination.
Newsome cited other laws already in place, reports nonprofit news organization Cal Matters. He also said that workers who lose their jobs could lean on unemployment insurance.
“While the goal of limiting the disruptions caused by grocery mergers and acquisitions … is laudable, existing law already provides protections for displaced workers,” he said. “The additional obligations in this bill are unduly prescriptive and overly burdensome.”