Voters are largely free to ignore the wave of television and direct mail ads aimed in their direction every election cycle. But what if the person trying to influence your vote is your boss?
Business groups are increasingly using the workplace as a staging ground to shape the outcomes of elections.
Last month, supervisors at the Phoenix corporate headquarters of the truck rental business U-Haul were told to bring their respective teams to an internal company town hall to hear from Steve Ferrara, the Republican candidate for Arizona’s 9th Congressional District, who ended up posting a picture of his talk with the workers on a campaign Facebook page. An umbrella group of mining companies, according to its own social media postings, has pushed workers to embrace candidates endorsed by company lobbyists — a list that is overwhelmingly Republican.
It’s not a new dynamic. Every year, companies are taking more and more liberties in attempting to influence workers’ political behavior.
“It used to be that voting was more private. Now, the environment is much more fraught with debate and tension and conflict.”
“It used to be that voting was more private,” said Paula Brantner, the executive director of Workplace Fairness, a nonprofit employee rights group. Brantner said that increased political polarization intensified employer messages to workers: “Now, the environment is much more fraught with debate and tension and conflict.”
Those efforts by bosses to push employees to certain choices at the ballot box are not just aimed at pushing particular candidates: Businesses are taking brazen steps to coerce workers into taking positions on ballot measures that align with the companies’ corporate interests. The Intercept collected accounts from both publicly available information and employees of several companies.
This year, employees of Western National Group, a privately held apartment building developer, received a letter — which was obtained by The Intercept — from chief executive Michael Hayde to “please join” him in opposing Proposition 10, a California ballot question to allow the expansion of rent control. And nurses at a health care provider, who asked not to be named, told The Intercept that they were bombarded with messages through their employee portal about the importance of voting against Proposition 8 — a California measure that would limit profits at dialysis treatment centers.
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