The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Albertson’s 4-billion-dollar Dividend

Jan 23, 2023

Albertson’s, the grocery store chain which also owns Jewel-Osco, announced it is going to pay out a 4-billion-dollar dividend to its shareholders.

On January 19, the Washington State Supreme Court decided it wouldn’t even hear a legal challenge to this dividend coming from the Washington Attorney General, who had argued that paying out this much money would weaken the company and likely lead to store closures. A federal judge threw out similar efforts by lawyers for California, Illinois, and Washington, D.C.

These four billion dollars come from the wealth this company has squeezed out of its workers, cutting wages, benefits, and working conditions for decades. And it comes from the money it has squeezed out of all of us who buy groceries—look what’s happened to the price of eggs!

And as the Washington Attorney General pointed out, after Albertsons completes its 25-billion-dollar merger with Kroger—which also owns Mariano’s, Ralphs, and other chains—the new company will have no reason to operate stores that currently compete. This will likely mean more store closures, which will cost thousands of jobs. The company will also then be free to jack up grocery prices even higher, since there will be fewer competitors.

Several grocery unions put out a joint statement: “We are disappointed to see a ruling that favors a small number of ultra-wealthy shareholders over the many thousands of essential workers and millions of Americans who will be left to suffer the consequences of this outright financial looting of Albertsons.”

They are right, of course. But who can be surprised that the courts took the side of these financial looters? Like Sears or Toys-R-Us, this is just one more example of a company that sells something we need, being looted to funnel billions more to the super-rich.

But workers still deliver the groceries, stock the shelves, clean the stores, and work the registers (even the supposedly “self-check-out” registers). That means that when they come together, workers have the power to change this situation—when they count on their own forces, not on courts that are run in the interests of the super-rich.