A major union with members in the retail food industry released a letter Monday calling for a federal review into Amazon’s proposed acquisition of Whole Foods.
Amazon could soon change grocery shopping forever if their proposed merger is approved. The online retail giant sent a shock wave through the industry June 16 when it announced the proposed $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods. Those opposed to the proposal warn it could have devastating consequences for the retail food industry.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) argues the acquisition is about destroying jobs through Amazon-style automation. The union also has a lot to lose since it has many members in retail food markets. The UFCW issued a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) calling on the agency to investigate the merger.
“We strongly urge the FTC to carefully review this merger,” the UFCW letter stated. “We believe a fair and impartial analysis will prove that Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is a competitive threat to our economy that will hurt workers and communities.”
The UFCW lists several potential consequences that may result from the proposed deal. The union warns it could hurt consumers by giving too much control to one company, undermine consumer choice, and hurt those that work in the industry. UFCW President Marc Perrone summarized the argument June 29 in an opinion piece for CNN.
Amazon President Jeff Bezos has been working to break into the food retail market for years. Amazon notes the merger will help improve customer service, products, and choice.
The Amazon proposal is already being seen as potentially monolithic. Forbes contributor Diane Lim wrote that the acquisition could end grocery shopping as we know it. CNBC reports that investors are seeing retail food profitability is becoming less reliable. Business Insider added the deal should terrify traditional retail stores like Walmart.
The UFCW has 1.3 million members working in agriculture, health care, meatpacking, food processing, manufacturing, textile, chemical trades, and retail food. The union could be severely impacted if the merger causes employment losses on either the retail or supply side.
Bloomberg reported that Amazon is denying any plans to cut jobs despite rumors to the contrary. Critics have also expressed concern the acquisition could make it impossible for many competitors to operate. Amazon could then position itself to take greater control of the retail and supply industries. The inability to compete and automation could cause a decline in jobs.
CEI’s Trey Kovacs notes job losses are a possibility but increases in productivity and innovation may increase demand for labor elsewhere. He adds better education, skills development, and the removal of arbitrary work restrictions will help.
The FTC said that it does not issue comments on letters it receives when asked by InsideSources.