In probably the most disturbing trend in recent political history, we have seen a rash of companies threatening the jobs of their employees based on the outcome of the Presidential election. These threats have been veiled in the guise of potential problems that the companies would face if Romney isn’t elected; however, unless you are an unquestioning follower of Republican propaganda, you can easily see this for what it is – voter intimidation.
The most politically correct threat has been made by the Koch brothers. They sent a “voter information packet” to their employees. In the letter including in the packet, the employees were told that, although they were free to vote for whomever they chose, “many of [Koch’s] more than 50,000 US employees and contractors may suffer the consequences” based on the outcome of the election. They also included an op-ed by David Koch endorsing Romney and one by Charles Koch condemning Obama.
The next threat, from ASG Software Solutions CEO Arthur Allen, was a lot more direct. In an email to employees, Allen stated, “I can tell you, if the US re-elects President Obama, our chances of staying independent are slim to none….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.”
In probably the most disgusting display of coercion, David Siegel of Westgate Resorts emailed his employees a very blatant threat. This email stated, “The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration….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….This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.” Allen also claims credit for getting Bush elected. He told Bloomberg, “I had my managers do a survey on every employee [8,000 total]. If they liked Bush, we made them register to vote. But not if they liked Gore.” He said he made sure all of the employees who supported Bush got to the polls and surveyed them afterwards to see how many people wouldn’t have voted if it weren’t for his efforts. He says 1,000 people did and claims that this was the deciding factor in Florida. This is a guy who is currently constructing the largest home in America, a 90,000 square foot lakeside residence with an estimated value of $65-$75 million. If that’s not enough to convince you that this is a threat instead of concern about the business, Siegel told Reuters in July that “We’re the most profitable we’ve ever been.” He also hired 1,500 new employees and said he has had to fend off banks that are throwing money at him. So he’s in such dire straights that his company is the most profitable it’s ever been?
This is the worst example of thug behavior that I have ever seen. These companies might as well have management standing at the polls with baseball bats. I’m sure people would rather face the threat of physical pain to the threat of losing their livelihood. I’m sure it will be deemed legal because they told the employees that they could still vote for whomever they want, but unless you are a fool you will see this as coercion and voter intimidation. However, this is no different than a manager telling an employee, “you don’t have to sleep with me, but you might lose your job if you don’t.” If they had done that, they would all be facing sexual harassment charges. These men should be held accountable to the law and imprisoned. There is no place in a free society for executives to determined the outcome of elections through threats to the lives of their employees.