Koch Brothers Attempt to Sway Their Employee’s Votes
October 15, 2012 7:54 am
The Koch brothers-affiliated SuperPAC Americans for Prosperity has raised 20.7 million to oppose Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. Now they’ve decided that their outsized donations — which dwarf pro-Obama PACs — are not enough. They are making a deliberate play for the votes of their employees.
The libertarian heads of the massive Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries refer to their market based management system as the “science of liberty.” Yet a directed political mailing to 45,000 employees of Koch subsidiary Georgia Pacific — coupled with an opaque social media policy — illuminate a culture in which employees are expected to vote in lockstep with their billionaire bosses.
Mike Elk describes the process in a brilliant expose for In These Times:
The packet arrived in the mailboxes of all 45,000 Georgia Pacific employees earlier this month. The cover letter, by Koch Industries President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Robertson, 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.
The mailing positions an Obama reelection as a direct threat to the business of Georgia Pacific. The Koch brothers derided what they saw as a smear campaign on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which experienced a massive corporate exodus after the Trayvon Martin murder brought attention to the ALEC-backed “Stand Your Ground” law that made it possible. The Koch brothers said companies abandoning ALEC lacked courage, while at the same time discouraging their employees from speaking their own minds.
In These Times reports:
In August, Portland-based Georgia Pacific worker Travis McKinney, a member of the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific (an affiliate of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union), learned about the social media policy the hard way during his yearly evaluation.
When McKinney applied for a foreman job at the plant in May, he says, his supervisor informed him that a higher-up said he wouldn’t get the job because he was “too political.” “They said I should be aware of what I am posting online,” says McKinney. A subsequent August evaluation of McKinney noted that “supervisors feel Travis gets caught up in the politics of the day which can be distraction.”
The article also reports on a number of Oregon-based Georgia Pacific employees who posed with candidate for the Democratic Senate Arnie Roblan in front of their union hall in September. When the voter guide arrived and the candidate was not endorsed (the packet endorses only Republicans, and features Koch-penned editorials), Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers Vice President Greg Pallesen began receiving calls from employees that were worried about being reprimanded or fired if the photo leaked to the Internet. They were worried because the Georgia Pacific plant could be seen in the background, and the company’s social media policy states: “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.”
With the Koch brothers so clearly seeing their business as an extension of their politics and vice-versa, its no wonder employees are scared to express their own opinions. To the Koch brothers, a good employee is an employee that votes Republican. Period.
Image from here