Employees of Rite-Hite, a major manufacturing company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are the latest to be warned of the consequences of voting President Barack Obama into the White House for a second term.
But Rite-Hite’s owner and chairman Mike White may have broken the law when he sent the Oct. 23 email to his staff. The state has laws restricting political propaganda by employers.
In his email, White wrote that that every employee should understand the “personal consequences” of having the tax rate increase if Obama is reelected. He told people that Obama’s reelection would mean taxpayers will be forced to fund future deficits and social programs like Obamacare.
White also wrote that tax rate on the company's profit could increase to about 65 percent, reducing after-tax income.
“Instead of these profits being re-invested into Rite-Hite for future growth and profitability, the money will be sent to the abyss that is Washington, D.C.,” the email read, noting that employees contributions and retirement are at risk.
While he stopped short of telling employees to vote for Republican challenger Mitt Romney, White’s nudge was evident.
“Rite--‐Hite nor I will ever prejudice any employee for their political views, and, totally respect your right to vote as you choose,” the email read. “I simply am trying to present the facts as I know then and to protect the business you have helped build! Please think very carefully about your vote on November 6th.”
Wisconsin’s statutes say that, “No employer or agent of an employer may distribute to any employee printed matter containing any threat, notice or information that if a particular ticket of a political party or organization or candidate is elected or any referendum question is adopted or rejected, work in the employer's place or establishment will cease, in whole or in part, or the place or establishment will be closed, or the salaries or wages of the employees will be reduced, or other threats intended to influence the political opinions or actions of the employees.”
The office of Wisconsin County District Attorney John Chisholm said he is "is aware of this information and has forwarded the concern to Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf, who reviews election related matters."
Rite-Hite employs 1,400 people worldwide, according to its website. It manufactures and sells industrial equipment for loading docks, as well as industrial doors, safety barriers and industrial fans.
Rite-Hite also maintains approximately 30 representative organizations in 100 locations in North America, Asia, Europe, and South America.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rite-Hite received $26,471 in economic stimulus money under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as President Obama's stimulus package.
White isn’t the only employer who has sought to urge employees to vote for a particular candidate.
Earlier this month, reports surfaced that David Siegel, founder and CEO of the timeshare company Westgate resorts, sent an email to his employees telling them their jobs will be threatened under Obama.
“If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company,” the email stated.
During a June conference call, Romney reportedly encouraged business owners to advise employees on how to vote.
Laura is a U.S. politics reporter for the International Business Times. She was always fascinated by the BBC World News each morning on the radio in Jamaica. That, and a love...