Koch Industries, the billion-dollar global corporation that is known for converting some of the world’s resources into services that people depend on, sent a mailing to 45,000 of its employees earlier this month on how to vote in this year’s presidential election. The company’s owners, siblings David (pictured right) and Charles Koch (pictured), who are infamously known for being GOP mega-donors, reportedly informed their Georgia Pacific employees that their livelihood could depend on the 2012 elections and that the company wholeheartedly supports Republican candidate Mitt Romney for president, according to the New York Daily News.
The voter information packet that was mailed to the employees was obtained by In These Times, a politically progressive and socially democratic monthly magazine, and the cover letter included a message from Koch Industries President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Robertson stating:
While we are typically told before each Presidential election that it is important and historic, I believe the upcoming election will determine what kind of America future generations will inherit.
If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects, and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills.
Robertson’s letter went on to sinuously explain that the ultimate voting decision was left to the employees:
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.
The packet also included a flyer that listed Koch-endorsed candidates with Romney at the favored No. 1 spot. Leaving no stone unturned, Charles Koch also wrote an op-ed that slammed President Barack Obama with his brother David writing another that exulted Romney.
Amid warranted criticism for “persuading” employees to vote for Romney and fellow Republicans, Koch executive Rob Tappan said in a statement to MSNBC that the packet was sent “to encourage employees to be informed about and engaged in the political process.” He also pointed out that other mainstream corporations and labor unions also follow similar proselytizing routes involving their employees come election time.
Unfortunately, Tappan’s statement about other companies sending out political missives is not without credence.
Last week, David Siegel, founder and CEO of Florida’s Westgate Resorts, sent an alarming e-mail to 7.000 employees, stating that layoffs would be imminent if Obama were to become re-elected:
It’s quite simple. 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. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.
So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn’t? Whose policies will endanger your job? Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of protecting and saving your job. While the media wants to tell you to believe the “1 percenters” are bad, I’m telling you they are not. They create most of the jobs. If you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the “1%”; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country.
Regarding Georgia Pacific employees, In These Times reports that many employees are afraid to publicly support politicians who are not backed by the Koch Brothers. In These Times reports:
In September, a number of unionized employees at Georgia Pacific’s Toledo, Ore., plant posed for a photo in front of their union hall with Democratic state Senate candidate Arnie Roblan. When the Koch Industries voter information packet arrived in the workers’ mailboxes a few weeks later, they saw that Roblan was not on the list of Koch-endorsed candidates in Oregon.
It was then, says Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers (AWPPW) Vice President Greg Pallesen, that he started receiving some of the strangest phone calls from workers he’s fielded in his 30-plus years of union involvement. The unionized workers in the photo were worried that they might be fired from their jobs if the image got out on the Internet, because in the backdrop of the photo, the Georgia Pacific plant could be seen.
And the “Koch reach” doesn’t stop there. Reportedly, who employees support is also watched on social media:
Their fear comes not only from the mailing, but also from a new Georgia Pacific social media policy implemented earlier this year that warns, “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.” Given the policy, the workers were scared to appear next to a candidate the Kochs do not support with the plant in the background.
Obviously, “encouraging” employees to vote for a specific candidate — especially in the ways done above — is a sure threat to employees. And as evidenced above, employer tactics of mailings and social media advisories are already having the desired effect of stifling political expression and promoting fear and anxiety.
Can anyone say “voter intimidation“?
This, along with voter ID laws, illustrates once again that Republicans are willing to win in November by any means necessary. This is shameful and should be outlawed.