Goya Foods voted to silence the public remarks of its CEO Robert Unanue. He was censured after recent television appearances when he made controversial remarks about the “unverified” presidential election.
Frankly, many members of the company’s board have been trying to punish him ever since he went to the White House last July and praised the leadership of President Trump as a member of the business community. The board made up of family members is like a lot of other families – there are differing political views. Not all board members appreciated Unanue speaking favorably of Trump while representing the family-owned company during a White House event. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was among those on the left who called for a boycott of the company’s products after that event so Unanue trolled her by naming her Employee of the Month last December.
He “honored” AOC because the company’s sales went up during the boycott, not down. It was good for business for Unanue to appear at the White House and use that big platform to tout the company’s donations to communities hardest hit by the coronavirus, including large amounts of their food products to food banks. Goya Foods is the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the U.S. As I noted at the time, “The event at the White House included President Trump signing an expansion of the “Hispanic Prosperity Initiative”. The initiative includes support for Opportunity Zones, charter schools, and tax benefits.” This, by the way, is the exact opposite of how Joe Biden is now running the show. Instead of Opportunity Zones, charter schools, and tax benefits, he is running a top-down leftist government that will not provide the environment for job creation but will certainly put working-class men and women out of work. Think Keystone XL Pipeline. With the swipe of his pen, Biden has destroyed the lives of thousands of American workers and he’s not even completed his first week in office.
The family wants to put a stop to including politics in its public remarks. Frankly, that’s a good policy to have for businesses in general. Why offend half of the country, half of a potential customer base, unnecessarily?
The Hispanic foods giant on Friday agreed to censure Unanue, 67, for controversial remarks in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 invasion of the US Capitol building, including on Jan. 20 when he called Biden’s election “unverified” during an appearance on Fox Business.
The vote by a majority of Goya’s nine-member board means Unanue must now obtain board permission before making any more media appearances, sources close to the situation said.
“Bob does not speak for Goya Foods when he speaks on TV,” Goya board member and third-generation owner Andy Unanue told The Post last week leading up to the vote. “The family has diverse views on politics, but politics is not part of our business. Our political point of views are irrelevant.”
It was refreshing to hear a successful minority businessman compliment the Republican president. Like the former CEO Of BET, Robert Johnson, Unanue can speak to how the federal government can create a positive environment for businesses to grow while noting job-killing policies.
The family didn’t agree with Unanue describing the presidential election as “an unverified election” just last week. So, the vote was taken to require Unanue to receive permission before doing any more media interviews.
“I think this it is mission accomplished. Mission accomplished by the union, the partnership, the conglomerate of social media, Big Tech, big media and government, big government, for ushering in the dawn of a new world order. This great reset,” Unanue said on Fox Business’ Mornings With Maria last week. “With an unverified election, and the big prize is the United States.”
Unanue has agreed to this stipulation and he acknowledges that he may not be in his position as CEO for much longer. He didn’t release a formal statement after the vote on Monday but did say he’ll separate his personal views from those of the company in the future.
“Independently, I’ve made the decision to lower the temperature and walk away from speaking about politics and religion,” he said. “I realize it’s important because of the diverse views of the company and our market.”
The CEO, who personally owns less than five percent of the business, didn’t fully close the door on speaking out either.
“I don’t believe I should speak politically or in a faith-based manner on behalf of the company,” he said. “But I leave open the possibility of speaking on behalf of myself.”
The boycott increased sales in 2020 but Unanue’s political statements about the election are now seen as a reason that sales are slipping. Sales are up overall during the pandemic – bean sales were up 82 percent and rice by 85 percent in a nine-week period ending on June 1. Now sales are not growing at the pace that is satisfactory to Goya shareholders. In recent weeks, sales are up 10 percent over a year ago.
Some Goya owners have also asked the board to present a motion to remove Unanue as CEO because he’s been using the company to promote his political views, sources said.
“More than 50 percent of the shareholders do not want Bob to be the CEO,” a Goya source said. “All these political statements that Bob is making is dangerous for the company and for us personally as owners,” this person added.
“It will hurt the Unanue name and company if he continues,” a second Goya source and shareholder said. “He should be thrown out as CEO. I think it’s really hurting us.”
In an interview with The Post last week leading up to Friday’s vote, Unanue acknowledged that his job may be on the line.
“I’m attacked by my own family” he said. “I could be fired tomorrow … whatever. It’s touch and go.”
Regardless if a company is led by a conservative or a liberal, it is best to keep politics out. It’s just good business policy.