COMMENTARY | Until 2010 it was illegal for employers to push employees towards a certain political candidate. 2010 was the year in which the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision was handed down, overturning the law which banned employers from talking about political opinions with their employees.
Since that time many employees have reported feeling “threatened” to vote for the party that aligns with their employers business philosophies.
The most recent example of employer “tampering” came last week when it was revealed that several companies, including Koch Industries, sent out letters urging employees to vote “the right way” or face possible problems with their future employment. While employers can not threaten an employees job, the undertones of their statements can not be understated.
Employers of course claim to be “educating” their employees, yet many “facts” are opinions and many opinions are extremely biased.
In many cases employers have began to implement scare tactics. For example, WFMY, a local North Carolina CBS affiliate, revealed the case of a Taco Bell franchise owner who told his employees that voting for Obama would cut down on work hours. The employer specifically explained to those employees that the President’s health care initiative would raise health care costs and leave less money for employee paychecks.
Sadly employees are rarely able to escape this type of political pandering as memos are distributed and in some cases notices are attached to an employees paycheck, a reminder that their employer controls their financial destiny and hopes to see them “do the right thing” by voting for their candidate of choice.
This isn’t just a practice being implemented by employers, it was actually endorsed this year by Mitt Romney who told employers they should “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 election.”
The problem with this type of pandering isn’t that employers have an opinion, it is the simple fact that GOP members listen to Romney’s statement and take it as his urging to push employees to vote for the Republican candidate.
As the Denver Business Journal points out the problem with this practice is two fold. First, employees feel discouraged from talking about their own political views with potential voters within their company, second, surveys have shown that employees view their employers as credible sources of information.
The rhetoric in support of employer voting requests is simple, if labor unions can try to push voters in one direction, employers should be able to push them in a different direction.
While employers can not demand an employee vote a certain way, specifically because employee voting records are kept private, there is no denying that threats against jobs should one man be elected over another borders on improper coercion on behalf of employers.
On the other hand employees may feel threatened when expressing their freedom of speech. For example would you place a “Vote Obama” bumper stick on your vehicle or in the front lawn of your home if your employer has made veiled threats against your future employment if you failed to vote for Mitt Romney?
What might be most scary about the power of employers is that they often have the facts incorrect. Lest we forget a Republican or a Democrat boss likely receives their information from partisan sources. An employer watching Fox News or CNN is not likely to provide an unbiased view of the facts to employees. As a trusted source for many employees what we are left with is biased voting responses based on the personal goals of the company and not of the people.
Employers hold a lot of power in the 2012 Presidential Elections and that my friends is a scary reality.
The views expressed in this commentary reflect the views and opinions of the writer and are not necessarily the views shared by Inquisitr.com and the rest of the Inquisitr writers staff.