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Thursday, May 07, 2015

'When Bosses Recruit Employees into Politics'

Is a secret ballot enough to protect against this?:

When Bosses Recruit Employees into Politics - Evidence from a New National Survey, by Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Harvard University: ...As part of my doctoral research on the many facets of shifting business involvement in U.S. politics, I recently commissioned the research firm SRSS to conduct a nationwide, statistically representative telephone survey of more than 1,000 U.S. employees. Survey respondents were asked whether their bosses or supervisors had tried to engage them in politics and, if so, how and with what kinds of messages. Overall, a quarter of employees reported that their bosses have tried to engage them in politics...
Startlingly, about seven percent of employees reported clearly coercive kinds of political contact at work – messages that made workers uncomfortable or included threats of plant closures, cuts in hours, or layoffs. Given the overall margin of error in my survey, the bottom line result is that somewhere between 3% and 10% of all U.S. employees – about 4 to 14 million Americans – are experiencing intimidating forms of political contact at work...
Most commentary about Citizens United has focused on the new leeway it grants corporations to spend on elections. However, Citizens United also makes it legal for corporate managers to campaign for their preferred political candidates in the workplace. Businesses can even go so far as to mandate that their workers participate in politics in certain ways – such as attending a rally for a favored politician. That happened during the 2012 election, when an Ohio coal mine required its workers to attend a rally for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Miners were not paid for their time, but some said they were afraid they could lose their jobs if they did not participate in the rally. ...
What can be done to curb the most coercive political communications from employers while leaving constructive firm efforts untouched? ... A precedent exists in the state of Oregon, where the Worker Freedom Act prohibits employers from holding mandatory meetings at work related to political issues, and protects employees from retaliation if they choose not to receive workplace political communications. ... My national survey revealed broad bipartisan support for such legal guidelines... The United States has long prided itself on being a model democracy, so the upward creep of workplace political intimidation should be a major concern for anyone who cares about citizen rights in the workplace as well as at the ballot box.

I don't think employers ought to be able to force employees to attend a rally, etc., and workers ought to be protected if they refuse.

    Posted by on Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 09:49 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (20)


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