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BILL MOYERS: Here’s a significant revelation of which you may not be aware. The plutocrats know it and love it, and the rest of us should be forewarned. When the Supreme Court made its infamous Citizens United decision, liberating plutocrats to buy our elections fair and square, the justices may have effectively overturned rules that kept bosses from ordering employees to do political work on company time. Election law expert Trevor Potter told us that now “corporations argue that it is a constitutionally protected use of corporate ‘resources’ to order employees to do political work or attend campaign events—even if the employee opposes the candidate, or is threatened with being fired for failure to do what the corporation asks.”

Reporter Mike Elk at In These Times magazine came across a recording of Governor Mitt Romney on a conference call in June with some business executives. The Governor told them there is quote, “nothing illegal about you talking to your employees about what you believe is best for the business, because I think that will figure into their election decision, their voting decision and of course doing that with your family and your kids as well.”

And here’s Governor Romney two months later, campaigning at an Ohio coal mine:

MITT ROMNEY: This is a time for truth. I listened to an ad on the way here. I’ll tell you, you got a great boss. He runs a great operation here. And he—Bob? Where are you Bob? There he is.

BILL MOYERS: Look at all those miners around him, steadfastly standing in support, right? They work for a company called Murray Energy and attendance at the rally, without pay, was mandatory. Murray Energy is notorious for violating safety regulations, sometimes resulting in injuries and deaths. And the company has paid millions in fines. The CEO, Bob Murray, a well-known climate change denier and cutthroat businessman, insists that his employees contribute to his favorite anti-regulatory candidates, or else. In one letter uncovered by “The New Republic” magazine, Murray wrote quote, “We have been insulted by every salaried employee who does not support our efforts.” So much for voting rights and the secret ballot at Murray Energy.

Mike Elk discovered that the Koch Brothers, David and Charles – who have pledged to spend $60 million defeating President Obama – have sent a “voter information packet” to the employees of Georgia Pacific, one of their subsidiaries. It includes a list of recommended candidates, pro-Romney and anti-Obama editorials written by the Koch’s and a cover letter from the company president. If we elect the wrong people, Dave Robertson writes, “Many of our more than 50,000 US employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills.” Other ills? Like losing your job?

This is snowballing. Timeshare king David Siegel of Westgate Resorts reportedly has threatened to fire employees if Barack Obama is re-elected and Arthur Allen, who runs ASG Software Solutions, e-mailed his employees, “If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come.”

Back in the first Gilded Age, in the 19th century, bosses and company towns lined up their workers and marched them to vote as a block. As we said at the beginning of this broadcast, the Gilded Age is back with a vengeance. Welcome to the plutocracy. The remains of the ol’ USA.

Bill Moyers Essay: When Bosses Push Their Politics

October 19, 2012

Bill shares his thoughts on corporate executives who — enabled by the Citizens United ruling — strong-arm their employees to vote as they say, from the Murray Energy CEO who reportedly made his workers spend unpaid time at a pro-Romney rally; to David and Charles Koch, who sent anti-Obama and pro-Romney materials to the 45,000 employees of their subsidiary Georgia Pacific; to ASG Solutions boss Arthur Allen, who sent an intimidating email to his employees. Learn more about corporate executives who make politics their company’s new bottom line.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.cleary.7921 Kevin Cleary

    This is just so un-American!

  • davidp

    the rich and/or bosses perhaps they have entitlement to do and say as they please according to the previous piece with Freeland and Taibbi.

  • Worried

    Yes, reminds me of old Soviet ploys by politicians who made people seem to support them. Next they will be jailed for speaking out…. This has to be stopped now. Repeal Citizens United!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.sponberg Jeff Sponberg

    Welcome to America comrade. You vote for who we tell you to vote for. The very fibre for which democracy stands is in danger by greedy plutocrats. I say, vote your conscience.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1785498545 Dianne Stanley

    This is the worst kind of intimidation. Every one of these employers should be sued. Where are the attorneys brave enough to file a class action suit with the Supreme Court?

  • Maggot

    Is it any wonder, why we have a “bully” problem with the young. they see it all around.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.sponberg Jeff Sponberg

    The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling is evidence that the court clearly don’t support the greater good of the country. They would have us sell our souls to corporate greed.

  • Anonymous

    See chart provided in the following link for historical examples of electioneering. Is histroy repeating itself en masse?

    http://www.laphamsquarterlydigital.com/laphamsquarterly/fall2012/m3/Page.action?mobile=true&mobileTier=3&pg=70

  • http://www.facebook.com/debbie.buchele Debbie Buchele

    While we can spend a great deal of time complaining and expressing our disgust, We must also put energy into working together to end this kind of intimidation. Where to begin?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1661561421 Fred Zawilinski

    I am just glad labor union leaders would never intimidate members to vote a certain way. “Everybody here’s got to vote. If we go back & keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these sons of bitches out”

  • Dee Davis

    There’s NO WAY anyone can determine how another is voting … unless they have their head in the voting box. I’d say ignore the s.o.b.’s who think they can intimidate others.

  • Lencialoo

    My answer to this kind of boss would be an immediate resignation then a call to my local news media to cover the story, time to out this kind of behavior before it gets worse. I wonder what these greedy, self-serving bosses would do if the employees all walked out in protest. Why are they so afraid of letting people vote the way they see fit?

  • pseeg

    wouldn’t it be nice if a news outlet set up a database where employees could report executives anonymously. Get the names of those who believe they can bully people’s votes. (It does make you wonder why corporations feel employees wouldn’t vote for a particular candidate on their own.)

  • charles

    Shouldn’t that be “Amerika” with a “k?”
    Of course, that would be communist, not fascist… which is where we’re headed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.aller.98 John Aller

    All the Republicans keep touting Obamcare as Socialism. I think Fascism (corporations deciding for the people) is much worse. Any they say Russia has problems!

  • Lorran Meares

    Only the bovine need follow the bull!

  • maggieloe

    Easily said. Not so easily done if you have mouths to feed and bills to pay.

  • http://twitter.com/EdCarterabc Ed Carter

    You think Republicans have a chance in government jobs? Think again

  • http://www.facebook.com/amberbowman73 Amber Bowman

    Wholly molly! This problem never crossed my mind!

  • Geri

    The cry of some of the public under Obama reign is that we are going toward socialism with Government rule. Tell me, what is different when employers are supported through interpretation of our nation’s courts ruling to tell, demand and threaten workers into voting for a certain candidate? That says “Communism”, Socialism and the Decay of the Democracy we fought so hard to maintain. We don’t have to worry now that “Communism” will affront and defeat, taking away our rights under Democracy, We are allowing those free rights to be lifted within our own country. It is Critical NOW to stand what has been given us through Democracy. We need a show in the streets, a call to change, a wake up to those leaders who will obscure our rights!!

  • Richard Moore

    Moyers has an agenda. Obama has cost many jobs in the coal and oil segments and the two “random” examples Bill chose happened to be there. I was accosted by a union rep at my grocery store, paid extra and retired pushing for an Obama vote. It bothered me as do companies telling employees how to vote. I’ve grown accustomed to the former and seriously question the latter as I have zero examples of anyone being fired or their careers damaged by their politics Except in entertainment and academia.The comment on welcome to America comrades should realize the politburo was the ce.real governmenr, not industry and it is more to Moyers leaning.

  • Pamela Zuppo

    Welcome to the United States of MAFIA.

  • Joe James

    I wonder what would happen if President Obama told all the federal workers (including the military) that to vote for any Republican candidate in any race would mean some of them would lose their jobs and benefits. There would be extreme rending of garments and cries of foul. The talks shows would be screaming about malfeasance. How would this be any different from other bosses telling their employees how to vote?

  • Paula

    My husband, Jimmy Herrington, has Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. His doc said this was a result of benzene exposure working in the Mobil/ExxonMobil refinery in Beaumont, TX, 1971-2004. In the state of Texas you cannot sue your employer while you live. Jimmy wants to file criminal charges against a “person” ExxonMobil who knowingly poisoned him resulting in leukemia. Does the Citizens United decision allow for criminal charges against corporations in Beaumont, TX? Please respond Mr. Moyers.

  • Pflast

    I believe voter intimidation is a federal crime.There are two important federal laws, the Voting Rights Act, passed in
    the 60s, and Voter Registration Act passed in the 90s, that have
    criminal and civil penalties for people who try to intimidate a voter.

  • http://twitter.com/GaiaBedes Yvonne Giroux

    No wonder Mitt Romney et. al want to defund PBS. Making it more difficult for truth tellers to bring us research and insight is to their advantage. Our ignorance is their bliss.

  • museking

    Agree– these repressive fear tactics are sickening.

  • museking

    Great question!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charley-James/642322029 Charley James

    There was a time in this country – and not too long ago – when federal law probihited bosses or companies from “suggesting” to workers how they should vote. The reason was simple: As Matt Tiabbi pointed out, a CEO is in a position of power and authority over employees, who may be intimidated and react accordingly. Alas, when the GOP controlled Congress in the 1990s (I believe that’s when it happened), the law was done away with for all practical purposes.

    I don’t buy the argument that letting a company give voting instructions to workers is the same as a union telling members how to vote. A union cannot fire a member from their job; a company can easily fire an employee.

    If a CEO cannot sexually harass an employee, why can a CEO vote harass workers?

  • Katherine Gottfried-Madrone

    I attended Mass yesterday with a largely Latino congregation. The service was in Spanish. The elderly white priest was advising the group to vote for Romney (Pro-Life). I was outraged. Romney would encourage “self-deportation” which would greatly impact the group. How is that Pro-life?

  • Anonymous

    Remember the controversy of letting this President address the youth during the first days of school. There were waivers, alternate activities, excused absences, etc. put in place to ensure that parents didn’t have their students listen as schools “influenced” or “brain-washed” future electorates. Interesting how things flip flop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/linda.oltmanns Linda Oltmanns

    I remember my Dad talking about his boss instructing him on who to vote for when Nixon and Kennedy were running for President. All kinds of veiled threats if Kennedy were elected. My Dad voted for Kennedy anyway, and told his boss the next day, and waited for the hammer to fall………..didn’t happen. I hope everyone in this country does the same. Votes for the man they want.

  • Kelbo

    Sometimes the truth hurts…and these employers are just telling it like it is. My very dear friend just got laid off from her job. Why? Because they decided to do away with her position. Why? Because of the Obamconomy. Period. I told her to have hope, they could very well hire her back after November 6th. I am praying for her, and our country as well….

  • Sven B

    Disgusting! This proves the “greed” agenda of CEO’s and executives and it makes me downright angry. A prosperous, well-paid middle class is what made this country great.
    To hell with the Supreme Court Justices for their “Citizens United” decision. I have a verdict for those Justices: “Guilty!”
    PS: I’m voting for Obama and there’s nothing they can do to prevent it.

  • Ken E

    Several thoughts on this fine comment by Mr. Moyers: (1) the Gilded Age ended, some say, with the sinking of the R.M.S. TITANIC. Appropriate that somebody out there with more money than sense is trying to build a new one. Not so surprising the Harland and Wolff of Belfast, Northern Ireland are not involved! (2) I recall a joke from the days of the old Soviet Union: a man goes to vote. He is told to put a sealed envelope into the ballot box; ‘But why, Commissar?’ he asks. He is told, ‘Did you not know? This is a secret ballot!’ Sad to say, of late we can’t even get the ‘secret’ part right.

  • Ken E

    Bravo for your dad! Mine voted for Tricky D (sounds like a rap musician) three times. Never trusted a Republican again after 1972. Of course, by then it was too late…

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.dekel Michael Dickel

    Citizens United and the turn toward what Bill Moyers calls the Plutocracy (I think of it as Corporate Feudalism) echoes the intentions of a 1933 fascist coup plot in the US, where business leaders planned to overthrow FDR. Hear this BBC documentary: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/document/rams/document_20070723.ram

  • Judy Larson

    I think I’ve figured out Mitt Romney’s economic plan. He keeps touting his experience at Bain Capital as his biggest asset in leading our country. Based on his statements I believe if he is elected he will fire everyone in the USA and sell the country to the highest bidder.

  • Anonymous

    How dare you Moyers!!!!!!! For years the unions have stolen our money as a condition of work and given it to criminals like Obama! And you have the nerve to complain about a few companies who don’t? Shame on all of you for what I had to endure for 35 years! If you want to know what intimidation is like join a union because this is what they do. At least these people were honest to their workers about how Obama would destroy the economy and has indeed. You should feel very guilty now!

  • Anonymous

    What do you think the union does with my stolen money? And now I have no insurance to boot!

  • Anonymous

    Moyers is biased and ridiculous. Let us see him tell the truth now about this!

  • Anonymous

    Wrong !

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if he went after them using the IRS or took away their insurance or threatened them? That’s what happened to me!

  • Anonymous

    You folks are clueless!