Here’s a Memo From the Boss: Vote This Way
Imagine getting a letter from the boss, telling you how to vote.Companies can now advise employees on how to vote -- and they do
Until 2010, federal law barred companies from using corporate money to endorse and campaign for political candidates — and that included urging employees to support specific politicians.
But the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has freed companies from those restrictions, and now several major companies, including Georgia-Pacific and Cintas, have sent letters or information packets to their employees suggesting — and sometimes explicitly recommending — how they should vote this fall.
In these letters, the executives complain about the costs of overregulation, the health care overhaul and possible tax increases. Some letters warn that if President Obama is re-elected, the company could be harmed, potentially jeopardizing jobs.
David A. Siegel, 77, chief executive of Westgate Resorts, a major time-share company, wrote to his 7,000 employees, saying that if Mr. Obama won, the prospect of higher taxes could hurt the company’s future.
“The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job, however, is another four years of the same presidential administration,” Mr. Siegel wrote. “If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current president plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company.”
What’s next, company stores, and company scrip instead of paychecks?Major Retailer Urges Workers To Take ‘Civics Course’ With Anti-Obama Content
Liberated from Federal Election Commission policies by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, employers that were once barred from advising employees on how to vote are now free to start telling employees how they should vote, and including some "or else" warnings.
And it appears some of them already have.
WFMY television in the swing state of North Carolina reported that the owner of a Taco Bell franchise encouraged employees to vote but, in his letter, also noted that the power of one vote is "enormous" and declared that "Obamacare creates a system that will force struggling businesses to cut your work hours to avoid paying for expensive insurance plans or tax penalties."
The station cited North Carolina statutes saying it’s a misdemeanor to intimidate employees to vote in a certain way.
In Wisconsin, activist groups have filed a complaint against the founder and chief executive of a loading dock manufacturing company, saying Rite-Hite chief Michael White broke state law when he emailed 1,400 employees warning that, among other points, "Every Rite-Hite employee in America should understand the personal consequences to them of having our tax rates increase dramatically if President Obama is reelected, forcing taxpayers to fund President Obama’s future deficits and social programs (including Obamacare), which require bigger government.... The other big impact on Rite-Hite employees, if President Obama is reelected, is the good chance of losing Rite-Hite insurance and being put into Obamacare.... Every opportunity to make up for lost profits to taxes will have to be evaluated."
A guest blogger for the Hill, which covers Capitol Hill, noted that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has begun encouraging campaigns to put political ads in employees’ pay envelopes, and that Romney has encouraged employers to "make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming election."
If you live in the Midwest and you’re working on a home-improvement project, you’re as likely to do your shopping at a Menards store as at a Lowe’s or Home Depot. With 270 stores and 40,000 employees , Menards is the third-largest home-improvement chain in the U.S., and one of the largest privately held corporations in the country. But Menards stores sell more than just lumber and building supplies; their employees are sold a bill of goods in the form of right-wing ideology.First Amendment, bitchez!
This January, as the Iowa Caucuses were underway, Menards began encouraging employees to take an at-home online “civics” course that characterizes the economic policies of President Barack Obama as a threat to the success of businesses such as Menards, and by extension, to the employees’ own well-being.
Menards employees who sign up for the course are graded on their knowledge via a multiple choice pass-fail test, and those who pass the test are acknowledged in company publications and bulletins. While workers are not required to take the course, those who hope for promotions may feel pressure to do so, since it is clear that management is paying attention to who is or isn’t taking the at-home classes, which are conducted on the employees’ own time. The civics course is offered as part of a battery of courses, most of which pertain to products sold by the company, or other aspects of working at Menards.
AlterNet has obtained the online textbook for the Menards civics course. The third part of the textbook, subtitled ” American Job Security,” imparts a message similar to the letter sent by Koch Industries CEO Dave Robertson to retirees and employees of the company’s Georgia Pacific subsidiary, as well as the e-mail sent to employees of Rite-Hite, a Milwaukee equipment manufacturer, by company owner Mark White, urging them to vote for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. While the Menards course doesn’t offer an explicit candidate endorsement, it describes Obama policies in threatening terms, while policies that echo Romney’s proposals are portrayed in a positive and uplifting light.