In the aftermath of the Citizens United ruling granting First Amendment rights to corporations, companies such as Koch Industries are telling their employees whom they should vote for, while simultaneously forbidding workers from expressing political opinions, In These Times reports:
In a voter information packet obtained by In These Times, the Koch Industries corporate leadership informed tens of thousands of employees at its subsidiary, Georgia Pacific, that their livelihood could depend on the 2012 election and that the company supports Mitt Romney for president. The packet arrived in the mailboxes of all 45,000 Georgia Pacific employees earlier this month.
Ironically, while the Kochs have been taking advantage of Citizens United to expand political communications to employees, they have also capitalized on weak labor laws to limit the political speech of those employees.
A new Georgia Pacific social media policy [PDF] implemented earlier this year that warns, “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.” Given the policy, the workers were scared to appear next to a candidate the Kochs do not support with the plant in the background.
Georgia Pacific workers say that in general, they are not sure where the boundaries of the social media policy lie. AWWPW Local 5 President Jim Pierce, who works at Georgia Pacific paper mill, in Camas, Washington, is wary of commenting online about the outspoken Koch Brothers’ political beliefs. “Even if I was at my own home, I can’t put something up [on Facebook] against the Koch Brothers,” says Pierce. “I don’t post anything about the Koch Brothers. I could lose my job.”
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.