Gawker first brought this phenomenon to our attention last week when they reported on David Siegel, CEO of Westgate Resorts, one of the biggest timeshare companies in the country, and the following email letter he sent out to his employees:
“To All My Valued Employees,
As most of you know our company, Westgate Resorts, has continued to succeed in spite of a very dismal economy. There is no question that the economy has changed for the worse and we have not seen any improvement over the past four years. In spite of all of the challenges we have faced, the good news is this: 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. Of course, as your employer, I can’t tell you whom to vote for, and I certainly wouldn’t interfere with your right to vote for whomever you choose. In fact, I encourage you to vote for whomever you think will serve your interests the best.”
As Gawker points out, Westgate Resorts is a privately held company, which means in addition to being able to do whatever he pleases (like telling his employees to vote Republican), Siegel has no threat of shareholder retribution to face, or any other consequences except bad press like this. And as they say, any publicity is good publicity?
Siegel’s not the only CEO in the country that’s engaging in questionable exploitation of the boss-worker relationship this election season. Earlier this month, the 45,000 employees of Georgia Pacific owned by the infamous Koch Industries, domain of megadonors Charles and David Koch, received a “political information packet” with a cover letter which read:
“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…
To help you engage in the political process, we have enclosed several items in this packet. For most of you, this includes information about voter registration deadlines and early voting options for your state. At the request of many employees, we have also provided a list of candidates in your state that have been supported by Koch companies or by the KOCHPAC, our employee political action committee.”
Every endorsed candidate in the information packet was a Republican. Unfortunately, in 2012 if your boss is so inclined, you’re still endowed with your own “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness,” just as long as that includes the freedom to be subtly encouraged to vote how your employer would like you to… or else… be vaguely threatened with veiled language, and perhaps more serious consequences.
What do you think as an independent voter? Should privately owned employers be able to “suggest” how employees vote? What about publicly owned corporations?
For more excellent coverage of The Koch Brothers’ questionable workplace practices, head over to InTheseTimes.com who broke the story.