Koch brothers helpfully check employees know how to vote Republican
A worrying trend amongst employers.
The billionaire owners of Koch Industries, also known as the Koch brothers, recently decided to send a helpful information packet to their 45,000 employees, with guidelines about voting. It included a comprehensive list of Republican candidates, and pointers on exactly how to vote Republican.
The magazine In These Times published a report on the packet. One of the accompanying letters warned that if Obama was re-elected:
..many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences... It is essential that we are all informed and educated voters. Our future depends on it.
But all was mitigated by this included disclaimer:
We believe any decision about which candidates to support is—as always—yours and yours alone, based on the factors that are most important to you. Second, we do not support candidates based on their political affiliation.
David and Charles Koch aren't the only employers trying to manage their employee's voting behaviour in this way. Last week David Siegel, CEO of Westgate Resorts, wrote a letter to his employees saying that their jobs would be endangered if Obama was re-elected. Not that he would sack them - just that their jobs would be endangered, because of the economy.
And here's a quote from a letter by Arthur Allen, the chief executive of ASG Software Solutions, who sent his employees the following a couple of days ago: "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".
The flood of not-so-subtle company hints to employees come after FEC laws stopping employers expressing electoral opinions were overturned. Weak labour laws remain however, and the Kochs have not been slow to take advantage.
According to the report from In These Times, Koch Industries keep their social media policies deliberately vague: while they don't forbid the expression of certain views, they leave employees unwilling to do so in case they risk their jobs. Here's an extract:
“Even if your social media conduct is outside of the workplace and/or non-work related, it must not reflect negatively on GP’s reputation, its products, or its brands.”
And here's an employee talking to In These Times:
“It’s just they can intimidate people this way and they can make life miserable for you. The law would be strong enough to protect them probably, but you could be looking at being without your job for nearly a year.”
Tags: US Election 2012
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