Imagine getting a letter from your boss telling you that you could personally face dire consequences if a certain political candidate were elected President. Would your behavior be affected? If a co-worker lived in your neighborhood, would you take down their yard sign supporting the guy who might allegedly threaten your well-being? Would you stop posting your views to social media sites? Though there is no way your boss can follow you into the voting booth or force you to disclose your choice, this type of influence has nonetheless become all too real for employees at some American companies.
In the Citizens United States of America, the unpatriotic practice of workplace intimidation is barely legal and wholly embraced by CEOs nationwide (as well as candidate Mitt Romney himself). These tactics are straight out of the Vladamir Putin human rights suppression playbook and Romney has no qualms about asking his cronies to Putin the work, if you will.
An audio recording recently published by In These Times writer Mike Elk made that clear. Romney defends the practice, hopes others will do it, and reminds everyone on the conference call recording that it is legal.
I hope you 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 elections. And whether you agree with me or you agree with President Obama, or whatever your political view, I hope, I hope you pass those along to your employees.
Across the nation, bosses are now bullying their employees into voting Republican, a tactic that shows how desperate the party has become with the election nearing.
Sure, large corporations like Georgia-Pacific have sent 45,000 intimidating letters at once, but these tactics are playing out on the clock of smaller companies as well. In Wisconsin, Mike White, the chairman and owner of Rite-Hite, a major Milwaukee manufacturer of industrial equipment, sent a memo to his employees telling them that all Rite-Hite employees…
“should understand the personal consequences to them of having our tax rates increase dramatically if President Obama is re-elected, forcing taxpayers to fund President Obama’s future deficits and social programs (including Obamacare), which require bigger government.”
Wisconsin is looking like it will remain firmly pro-Obama, which makes one wonder why White would risk the public backlash and personal name tarnishing. Or perhaps it is this exact fact, the unreality of a Romney win in Wisconsin despite it being his VP choice’s home state, that thrust White into a frenzy when he borderline threatened his employees’ health insurance. For some workers health insurance is the main reason they stay with a company. According to the memo,
The other big impact on Rite-‐Hite employees, if President Obama is re-‐elected, is the good chance of losing Rite-‐Hite insurance and being put into Obamacare. Employers have the choice (though competition in the marketplace will dictate), to continue their existing plans or to pay a penalty and have employees go into the Government Plan. Our plan costs much more per family than the penalty and hence the possible competitive need to drop the Rite-‐Hite Health Plan. Every opportunity to make up for lost profits to taxes will have to be evaluated
This tactic may backfire in some cases as the average American notoriously does not like to be told what to do. Responding to the email, one Rite-Hite employee scoffed at the attempt:
“It’s a good company, but for this to come out, it’s absurd.”
Richard Lacks, President and CEO of auto industry company Lacks Enterprises, attached a warning to a bonus check distributed to his company’s 2,300 employees that suggested a second term for President Obama would directly affect their paychecks. Ironically, no mention of President Obama’s auto industry bailout, which allowed the company to stay open and prosper enough to hand out the bonuses with which the political intimidation was paired, was made. No, only alarming statements about “big government” were included.
“As employees, you will receive no additional direct benefit other than you will have to pay for it,” said Lacks in a letter he sent to hourly employees last Friday.
“The talk of additional tax increases by the administration, if re-elected, will have an additional negative impact on the organization,” he wrote. “ It is always important to remember the more government takes the less there will be available to spread around to the working people of this company.
“It is important that in November you vote to improve your standard of living and that will be through smaller government and less government,” Lacks said in a letter that was leaked to MLive.com.
ASG Software Solutions
An email sent by ASG CEO Arthur Allen threatened the jobs of nearly 1,000 employees (i.e. ASG’s entire roster) if Mitt Romney is not elected. The email, obtained and broadcast by MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes, states that Allen is likely to sell the company if Obama retains the White House:
Many of you have been with ASG for over 5, 10, 15, and even 20 years. As you know, together, we have been able to keep ASG an independent company while still growing our revenues and customers. But I can tell you, if the US re-elects President Obama, our chances of staying independent are slim to none. I am already heavily involved in considering options that make our independence go away, and with that all of our lives would change forever. … If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come.
That’s interesting. In those “5, 10, 15 and even 20 years” there have been Democrats, Republicans and Democrats again in the White House. Strange that ASG is suddenly going out of business based on the party in control…
The 7,000 employees of the major timeshare company received a warning from their boss that a vote for Obama could affect the future of their positions. CEO David A. Siegel wrote a letter to his employees stating that the prospect of higher taxes under the Obama administration would likely force him to cut jobs:
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.”
In response to the New York Times piece, Siegel showed that he is out of touch when he claimed that his intimidation attempt was unlikely to have an effect on his workers’ respective votes. Again, why do it then?
“There’s no way I can pressure anybody,” he said. “I’m not in the voting booth with them.”
Mr. Siegel added: “I really wanted them to know how I felt four more years under President Obama was going to affect them. It would be no different from telling your children: ‘Eat your spinach. It’s good for you.’ ”
Clearly these two statements are at odds.
The Unintended Effect
Kids who are told to eat their spinach often refuse to eat it and frequently develop a strong distaste for it. The unintended effect of this workplace intimidation, then, could be that employees who were undecided or who planned on sitting out the election may roll with Obama in order to go against their boss’ wishes. Regardless, there is no doubt that this disturbing, barely legal trend calls into question the legitimacy of the American electoral process.
In 2004, Ukraine’s elections were marred by voter fraud and political intimidation. At the time, President Bush condemned the practices and informed both Putin and the Ukrainian government that “the world was watching.”
In 2012, the Republican party has attempted to distance Mitt Romney from George W. Bush because they fearing their flacid attempts to link President Obama to the country’s economic woes would be undercut by the reminder of Bush’s abject ignorance. Sadly, they have distanced themselves from one of Bush’s only bright moments, his condemning the awful practice of political intimidation.
The question now must be asked, sadly, “who is watching over us?”