It’s no secret that the billionaire Koch brothers, David and Charles, are willing to spend millions of dollars to influence elections and further their economic policy views. Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United bestowed corporations with unprecedented rights to freedom of expression, it is now legal for corporations to express political views to their employees. In These Times reports that, in early October 2012, Koch Industries sent a pro-Romney mailer to 45,000 of its Georgia Pacific employees, while at the same time imposing dramatic restrictions on those employees’ freedom of expression as individuals.
Georgia Pacific employees are not allowed to express opinions on their personal social media sites that reflect negatively on Georgia Pacific’s reputation, products or brand. The new policy has fostered a culture of fear among the employees, afraid of losing their jobs as a result of expressing views that run counter to their employer.
In a broader context, this is not an isolated incidence. Other companies have engaged in similar tactics, attempting to control employees’ political activities to further corporate interests. The new freedom of speech under Citizens United coupled with weak labor laws has left employees vulnerable to coercive tactics employed by corporations like Georgia Pacific.
Mike Elk, “Koch Sends Pro-Romney Mailing to 45,000 Employees While Stifling Workplace Political Speech,” In These Times, October 14, 2012, http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14017/koch_industries_sends_45000_employees_pro_romney_mailing
Student Researcher: Matthew Brenner (College of Marin)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)