Employer under fire for exercising political speech

Posted on October 30, 2012 by Trey Garrison

Mike White, the chairman and owner of Rite-Hite, a major Milwaukee manufacturer of industrial equipment, wanted to be sure his employees understood what he feels is at stake in the presidential election. In an email sent this week to employees, White said his workers “should understand the personal consequences to them of having our tax rates increase dramatically if President Obama is re-elected, forcing taxpayers to fund President Obama’s future deficits and social programs (including Obamacare), which require bigger government.” Now Mike White is under fire.

Mike White, the chairman and owner of Rite-Hite, a major Milwaukee manufacturer of industrial equipment, wanted to be sure his employees understood what he feels is at stake in the presidential election.

In an email sent this week to employees, White said his workers “should understand the personal consequences to them of having our tax rates increase dramatically if President Obama is re-elected, forcing taxpayers to fund President Obama’s future deficits and social programs (including Obamacare), which require bigger government.”

The email, which may conflict with state election law, stunned some employees. One employee said he felt threatened by the email. “It’s a good company, but for this to come out, it’s absurd,” said the employee, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution from management.

The employee said even supervisors were surprised by the tone of the email. “Many were really disappointed to see this,” the employee said.

The email doesn’t mention GOP candidate Mitt Romney by name, but the employee said workers felt it was implicit that they were being encouraged to vote for him.

The firm employs an estimated 1,400 people worldwide.

In his email, White said neither he nor the company wanted to “prejudice any employee for their political views and totally respect your right to vote as you choose. I am simply trying to present the facts as I know them and to protect the business you have helped build! Please think carefully about your vote on Nov. 6.”

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