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From Cowboy State Daily:

"Wyoming Albertsons workers had a lot to say to CEO Vivek Sankaran Tuesday, and questions about how the proposed $25 billion merger with Kroger could affect their jobs and retirement.

"Vivek was in Casper visiting Albertsons locations with U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming.

"Barrasso told Cowboy State Daily he’d brought the grocery chain’s top executive to Casper to hear the concerns employees here have with the proposed $25 billion merger between Kroger and Albertsons. Barrasso and his wife Bobbi shop at both stores, and are friends with some of the store’s employees. That led the employees to share their concerns with the senator and his wife.

"Initially, Cowboy State Daily and other media were invited to be on the tour with Sankaran and Barrasso, but later were told the tour would be private. No media allowed.

"Sankaran left the store without talking to reporters about his visit, but Barrasso stuck around to chat about the visit that he had orchestrated after a chance introduction a couple of weeks ago in Washington, D.C."

KC's View:

Whoever told Sankaran that the press ought not be included in the tour made a mistake - because in the end, the media always is going to talk to the employees anyway, and not get a clear sense of the exchange between the two sides.

For example, you end up with passages like this one in the story:

A worker at one of the Casper stores, speaking on condition of anonymity who we’ll call Jordan for this article, told Cowboy State Daily the biggest flashpoint for employees is what happens to workers and their retirements if some stores close as a result of the Albertsons-Kroger deal.

That’s exactly what happened the merger before this one, when Safeway and Albertsons combined in 2015. Several stores were “spun off” to Haggens Food and Pharmacy, but went bankrupt less than a year later.

That was disastrous for the retirements of longtime employees at those stores, according to UFCW Local 7 President Kim Cordova, who has talked to Cowboy State Daily previously about the union’s concerns with the merger.

Employees who are still with Albertsons when it merged with Safeway in 2015 still remember how things were then, Jordan told Cowboy State Daily.

They cannot help but fear the same dynamic is playing out once again. 

Management is telling employees “don’t worry,” Jordan said.

But saying don’t worry is much different than guaranteeing everyone will have a job when the merger chips finally land.

And, passages like this one:

Albertsons shoppers, meanwhile, noticed that something was different Tuesday with Sankaran in town.

“Today is the day to go to Albertsons on Second Street,” Vickie Lyn, an Albertsons shopper in Casper posted on Facebook Tuesday afternoon. “The corporate big wigs are there (not blending in). It looks like a brand new store! Shelves fully stocked and faced. Nothing out of place. Clerks offering samples of food … I KNOW … WHAT IS THIS PLACE?! They’re probably big wigs from Kroger … Go away! No one wants a conglomerate!”

Yikes.  So it isn't like Sankaran didn't hear a discouraging word?

I'm not sure that "don't worry" is the right message here.  I think that we live in a world where we all worry - I think that in this case, labor and customers alike have been trained by time and circumstances to believe that there is a lot to worry about, and that their best interests are not always top of mind for the powers that be.