Friday, November 02, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #79 - Part 2

Outrage of the Week: More bosses say "Vote for Romney or get fired"

Two weeks ago, I told you about David Siegel, the CEO of Westgate resorts, who sent an email to his employees essentially telling them that they'd better vote for Romney because if Obama wins, he'd have "no choice" but to "downsize" - that is, fire people. Exactly why he'd have "no choice" was never made clear, but that's hardly surprising. I ended up by saying that this sort of transparent manipulation, this obvious bullying and threats against employees is hardly unknown or unprecedented - but it's still an outrage.

I'm returning to that point this week because, indeed, Siegel was hardly alone in openly threatening his employees with losing their jobs if they don't vote the corporate line.

On September 30, Arthur Allen, the CEO of a Florida-based software firm called ASG Software Solutions, emailed his over 1,000 employees telling them their jobs are at stake and Romney had better win. The body of the email, which bore the subject line "Will the presidential election directly affect your job at ASG?" said that if Obama wins, ASG's chances of avoiding being bought out by a bigger company are "slim to none" - again and naturally, why that is true is never explained; threats work best when they are not really explained. Allen adds that "When we buy a company, we eliminate about 60 percent of the salaries of the employees of that company." So, he says, "the same thing would happen to ASG’s employees." That  is, vote for Romney or 60% of you get the ax! And if that happens "I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout."

But Allen didn't stop there. A subsequent email actually urged employees to contribute "as much as you can" to Romney's campaign, right up to the legal maximum, in order to "help ASG and yourself."

And you probably won't be surprised to hear that the Koch brothers are at the same game. Earlier in October, all 45,000 employees of Georgia Pacific, which is a subsidiary of Koch Industries, received a packet in the mail about the election, a packet which included a list of Koch-endorsed candidates - all GOPpers - and a cover letter that said that if the wrong people win, then "many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences."

As a sidebar, in response to the revelation, Koch Industries released a statement that said in part:
[T]he information is purely intended to be considered among all the other information employees may be reading or receiving as an informed voter. We make it clear that any decision about which candidates to support belongs solely to our employees based on the factors that are most important to them, and this is in no way an attempt to “intimidate” employees.
Which struck me like the gunman who says "Your money or your life" and then says "I'm not trying to intimidate you; you are free to choose based on what's important to you."

Again, the idea of employers trying to pressure or threaten employees into voting the corporate line is not unprecedented, but why this year has it become so blatant? Beyond the obvious answer of corporations figuring, "hey we're now powerful enough so we can do what we damn please," there is the fact that this idea was openly espoused, openly encouraged, by then-candidate for the GOPper nomination Witless Romney. Back on June 6, in a conference call with the anti-union National Federation of Independent Business, he said
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.
So yeah, that's another reason it's happening: Your guy told you to.

Witless assured his listening acolytes that this is all legal:
Nothing illegal about you talking to your employees about what you believe is best for the business, because I think that will figure into their election decision, their voting decision.
That is, yes, this "vote the corporate line or get fired" is precisely intended to "figure into their voting decisions." That is the conscious, deliberate purpose.

To top it all off, to, in an old phrase I happen to like, cap the climax, why is this legal? Because of Citizens United. That abomination of a Supreme Court decision which opened the floodgates to huge amounts of corporate money flooding into elections also overturned Federal Election Commission regulations that prohibited employers from political campaigning among employees, a prohibition that was in effect because of the potential for exactly this sort of intimidation.

So it's another reason to despise the Citizens United decision, another reason to regard Witless Romney as, like most of the other members of his class, self-serving scum, another reason to recognize corporate America as propelled by nothing but eternally-unsatisfied greed. Another outrage.


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