“What America needs now are more huge, faceless, unaccountable corporations”….said nobody, except maybe for politicians hoping for campaign contributions from said corporations.
That said, Kroger, already a Goliath as the second-biggest grocery store chain nationwide behind Walmart, is seeking to buy Alberton’s, currently the fourth-biggest chain with most of its stores out West. Because of the monopolistic, anti-trust issues involved, Congress is investigating to see if they should approve or nix the deal. If approved, the new mega-Kroger would be a closer second behind Walmart.
As explained here, the Cincinnati-based corporation touts itself as “your friendly neighborhood Kroger” but in fact they have been pursuing woke policies for some years now, going so far as to post signs in their stores and banners on their website with the logo of a left-wing political pressure group that worked to put Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden in the White House.
On November 29, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told the the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights: “I just don’t see less competition going forward.” However, senators both left and right expressed skepticism that a bigger Kroger wouldn’t result in higher prices and fewer choices for consumers, especially at a time when grocery and gas prices are sky-high.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R) of Arkansas, however, ignited fireworks in the hearing when he asked about the case of his fellow Arkansans 57-year-old Trudy Rickert and 72-year-old Brenda Lawson. A few years ago Kroger insisted all their employees nationwide wear a rainbow-colored heart on their work uniforms. Rickert and Lawson asked for an exception, explaining they saw the logo as an endorsement of homosexuality which they disagreed with on religious grounds. One woman asked to cover the emblem with her name tag, but management refused even that.
In contrast to the “diversity” and “inclusion” Kroger preaches, leadership insisted on conformity and exclusion…and fired the two women.
Having been fired and aware that Kroger had violated their first amendment constitutional rights, Rickert and Lawson sought redress with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an agency of the federal government. With EEOC backing, the two women went to court. A federal judge later made Kroger pay them $180,000 in damages to settle the religious discrimination case and rewrite corporate policies to ensure constitutional protections going forward.
Sen. Cotton asked CEO McMullin if he was aware of the firings and ruling, and at first it sounded like he said “I am” but quickly “corrected” himself to say “I am not.”
Doubling down, Cotton explained that this was not a private suit, but had been brought by the federal government against Kroger. McMullin however doubled down too, insisting he had no idea the case had ever happened.
Sen. Cotton, it turns out, isn’t the only person skeptical that McMullin had never heard of any of this before, since the firings and subsequent payments made national headlines. My 91-year-old mother laughed when she heard the Cotton-McMullin exchange, because she remembered the story making national news. So the question is, how is my 91-year-old mother in Roanoke more cognizant of Kroger’s happenings than the CEO?
You can watch the exchange here.
The hearing gets really bizarre when Cotton asked McMullin about a Kroger “allyship” training manual that forbids employees saying words like “sir” and “ma’am.” Cotton points out that, for employees in their 70s in rural areas like parts of Arkansas, it would be hard for them to stop saying what for a lifetime they considered to be a show of respect. Cotton asks, if employees say the verboten “sir or “ma’am,” will they face disciplinary action?
McMullin deferentially replied, “Not that I’m aware of, sir.” (sic and lol)
Since 1. gas and grocery prices are outrageously high,
2. huge monopolies tend to raise prices and reduce options for consumers, and
3. Kroger is running free ads company-wide in their stores and on their website for a leftwing political group that works to put Democrats into office, Congress should nix Kroger-Albertson’s buyout deal.
Consumers need a break, not one more mega-monopoly.