Members of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights questioned the woke CEOs of grocery store giants Kroger and Albertsons about their proposed $25 billion merger last week.
Fearing this deal will “raise prices, cut jobs and exacerbate inequality in food access through the closing of more locations,” unions and progressive advocacy groups oppose the deal and have lobbied the Biden administration to stop the planned merger, according to The Hill,
During his questioning of Kroger CEO William Rodney McMullen, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican, delivered one of the best legislative smackdowns I’ve seen in a long time.
He asked McMullen about his company’s recent $180,000 settlement of a religious discrimination case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Kroger had fired two Christian employees who had worked at a Conway, Arkansas, location over their refusal to wear aprons with rainbow pride hearts on them.
McMullen said he was not aware of the case. Cotton expressed surprise that the CEO had no knowledge of a legal action against his company that had been brought by the U.S. government.
The uncomfortable CEO defended the hearts by explaining that “Kroger’s fundamental purpose is to feed the human spirit. And part of feeding the human spirit is the heart. And that heart is our fundamental strategy to support our purpose. The colors were not tied to any specific thing.”
The senator wasn’t buying it. “Well, I’m not sure I believe that because it was introduced during pride month as a supposed sign of inclusivity. And a federal judge didn’t agree with it either. That’s why he rejected your company’s motion for a summary judgment, and you just paid $180,000 to two employees which you wrongly terminated.”
He asked McMullen if he’d like to offer an apology to those employees “for the ordeal they went through?”
The CEO demurred saying he would need to learn more of the details of the case.
Cotton also referenced Kroger’s “Allyship Guide,” which instructed employees to stop using the terms “‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ because they’re not inclusive.”
“Okay. You know, this situation reminds me a little bit of the situation Big Tech companies have found themselves in in recent years. They’ve come to Washington because they fear regulation from our Democratic friends or action by the Biden Administration. And they expect Republicans, who are traditionally more supportive of free enterprise to come to their defense. And I have cautioned them for years that if they silence conservatives and center right voters across the country, if they discriminate against them in their company, they probably shouldn’t come and ask Republican senators to carry the water for them whenever our Democratic friends want to regulate them or block their mergers.”
Then came the zinger: “So, I have heard a lot of questioning about that today, and I’ve read a lot about it in the news, and I will say this: I’m sorry that’s happening to you. Best of luck.”
“I’m sorry that’s happening to you. Best of luck.”
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) December 6, 2022
The full exchange between Cotton and McMullen can be viewed below.
Sen. Cotton just provided an exemplary model for how Republican lawmakers should treat business leaders whose submission to woke principles have left them blind to common decency.
Although the Kroger/Albertson merger will no doubt sail through the approval process, Cotton did manage to land some serious blows on the squirming CEO. His company’s firing of Christian employees for refusing to wear a pride heart on their uniforms and their directions to avoid the terms “sir” and “ma’am” will alienate a certain portion of their clientele, which includes both conservatives and liberals.
According to financial website SmallBusiness.Chron.com, grocery store profit margins generally run between 1 and 3 percent of revenue. They “make their money on volume.”
Because supermarkets operate on such tight profit margins, they can ill afford to offend their customers, and clips of McMullen’s public humiliation on Capitol Hill will likely be seen by at least a small percentage of them.
Just a little something for him to think about as he considers the next pointless policy proposal that lands on his desk.
As they say, “Go woke, go broke.”
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