SoCal Supermarket Antitrust Case to Go Forward
By George Anderson
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is confident he can prove that Albertsons, Kroger and Safeway violated antitrust laws when the three signed a revenue-sharing agreement in anticipation of a United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) strike in Southern California in 2003. With yesterday’s ruling by a federal judge, Mr. Lockyer and his office will get the opportunity to make their case.
In a 30-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge George H. King concluded that the deal at least opened questions as to whether it had an anti-competitive effect. Judge King wrote that the agreement between the chains did not “follow naturally from the collective bargaining process.”
Tom Dresslar, a spokesperson for the California Attorney General’s office, said the case has implications for employers across the nation. “The message employers should be getting is that they are playing with fire if they try to implement these types of agreements,” he said.
A piece in the San Diego Union-Tribune offers a counterpoint to Mr. Lockyer’s position noting, “car manufacturers and airlines involved in multi-company negotiations with labor unions have signed similar revenue-sharing pacts in the past.”
Moderator’s Comment: What is riding on the outcome of this case? Do you believe the revenue sharing agreement signed by Albertsons, Kroger and Safeway
resulted in the chains being less aggressive competitively with one another, hurting consumers in the process?
California’s Attorney General is not seeking damages in this case. –
George Anderson – Moderator