Sen. Tom Cotton critically addressed woke CEOs during a hearing over the possible merger between Kroger and Albertsons Grocery store. The senate hearing pertained to the impact the proposed merger would have on the competitive landscape in retail grocery.
The Arkansas senator was voicing his frustration toward executives of left-leaning corporations who attack conservative values, but then seek the support of Republicans in the face of Democrat regulation on their businesses. Cotton blasted Kroger CEO, Rodney McMullen, over his “woke” company policies as he was pleading for the legislative assistance of the GOP.
“I’ve cautioned them for years that if they silence conservatives and center-right voters… 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.”
“I’ll say this: ‘I’m sorry that’s happening to you. Best of luck.”
The senator also addressed the “inclusive” policies that Kroger enforces on employees at its local grocery stores. The company mandated that associates in Kroger stores must wear aprons that contain symbols endorsing the LGBTQ+ community. Kroger fired two employees for refusing to wear this attire as it did not align with their personal beliefs. Kroger eventually had to settle the lawsuits as the employees were wrongfully terminated.
Watch the full questioning from Sen. Cotton below.
Kroger announced in October, it would plan to acquire Albertsons in a near $25 billion deal. Kroger is the second largest grocery store by market share in the country, just behind Walmart. Albertsons’ rank in market share is fourth behind Costco. The proposed merger between the two grocery giants seeks to increase their competitiveness with the cost-savings giant, Walmart.
At a time where inflation is driving up the cost of groceries and eating into the savings of American consumers, there is speculation the merger would create anti-trust issues. This could further drive up prices, negatively impacting already struggling Americans.
From Kroger and Albertsons point of view, the retail grocery industry has been extremely dynamic, undergoing drastic change over the last decade. There have been many new entrants into this field, such as deep discounters like Aldi or Lidl and online grocery shopping from Walmart and Amazon. All of these factors have created a hyper-competitive landscape, which is reducing already thin margins in retail grocery.
McMullen stated, “I just don’t see less competition going forward,” in defense of Kroger’s possible merger. However, research analyst Sumit Sharma, who specializes in anti-trust matters, claimed he did not see any benefits to combining the companies. The researcher claimed the merger would give the retailers more power to lower employee wages as there would be less competition for employers to compete for labor.
The merger faces bipartisan pushback from Democrats and Republicans. Democrats have always maintained a pro-labor stance when regulating industries, causing executives to lean on the GOP. However, since corporations have become increasingly “woke” and attacked conservative values, there is little reason for Republicans to support these businesses against the interests of their constituents.
Featured image is screenshot from embedded video.
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