Target: Koch Industries
Goal: Stop exerting voting pressure on employees
The billionaire brothers and owners of Koch Industries, David and Charles Koch, are trying to control their employees’ voting habits. The brothers recently sent out to their employees at the Koch Industries subsidiary Georgia Pacific a packet containing an anti-Obama editorial and a pro-Romney editorial the brothers penned themselves. They also included in the packet a list of 14 state candidates backed by the Koch brothers — all Republican.
This sort of activity is perfectly legal since the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that, among other things, understands employer political communication to workers as free speech. However, the Koch brothers have simultaneously enforced a zero-tolerance policy for employees who spread political opinions counter to their own on social media outlets such as Facebook.
The policy explicitly states that Georgia Pacific employees’ social media conduct must not “reflect negatively on Georgia Pacific’s reputation its products, or its brands.” Employees have expressed unease with expressing their political views online out of fear of retaliation or firing. Another employee was denied a foreman job because his managers felt he was “too political,” an assessment they made based on articles he posted online and his being quoted in a 2011 Nation article.
This sort of behavior on the part of Koch Industries amounts to voter intimidation and is unacceptable. Workers should not have to censor themselves outside the workplace or suppress their political positions. As a high-profile corporation with political influence, it is shameful for Koch Industries to attempt to manage the voting of its own workforce.
This also has the potential to signal to other large corporations that this sort of behavior is legitimate. If the workforce of a large company can have their political views silenced while simultaneously being persuaded to vote in the interests of their bosses, the workforce has the potential to lose their right to speak out against corporate abuse or labor violations.
Koch Industries will continue to do this until people take a stand against this sort of voter pressure. Tell the Koch Brothers to stop pressuring the votes of its employees.
Dear Koch Industries,
I am writing to express my dismay at the voter pressure your company has attempted to place upon it its workforce. While your company and its owners have the right to publish and distribute political information to your employees, you cross the line into voter intimidation when you attempt to control what sort of political views they express online and outside of work.
Many of your employees have explained their experience with this sort of intimidation from your management to journalists. One employee of your subsidiary, Georgia Pacific, explained that he was denied a foreman position because of the extent to which your company pushes its political perspective on its workforce to a journalist. This sort of behavior is intimidating to employees who feel they must silence themselves for the sake of their job and it is unbecoming of a company that prides its management philosophy as “the science of liberty.”
Such political pressure by a corporation in fact diminishes the liberty of its employees and is tantamount to voter intimidation. I urge you to cease your heavy-handed social media policy and allow your employees to voice their opinions online at their own discretion.
[Your Name Here]
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