As was widely reported in the weeks before the American presidential election, executives and owners of several companies warned their employees that an Obama victory—and pursuant changes to tax and regulatory structures—would have devastating results for their businesses. At least implicit in these briefings was the notion that each worker’s job was on the line, and that a self-interested employee would be wise to cast their ballot for Mitt Romney.
Sometimes that message was blatantly clear. In one case, as reported by UP w/ Chris Hayes, the President and CEO of ASG Software Solutions, Arthur Allen, warned his 1,000 employees that a second Obama term would lead the company to be sold and downsized:
We have been stuck in an extremely sick global economy, but as we should all know by now, the global economy largely depends on the US economy. This sick global economy has been negatively influencing ASG since December 2008. No one could have ever have dreamed that the US economy would still be sick 4 years later, but it is. We have a chance, as individuals, to help turn the sick US economy into a healthy economy, and positively influence the global economy as well. This chance comes on November 6th, when we elect a new President and administration. The US and the world need to elect individuals who have business experience. Neither the world nor the US can stand to elect politicians any longer. In my view, and in the view of most business leaders, if you give politicians 100 questions, they will give you back 100 wrong answers simply because they have no basis for making those decisions. Would you hire a person with no experience to do brain surgery? Of course not, but that's what the US voters did in 2009. Why does the world keep hiring politicians to run our global economies when they have no experience? It just makes no sense, and yet the world keeps doing it over and over again. Let's take the lead on November 6th and show the world how it should and can be done.
I am asking you to give us one more chance to stay independent by voting in a new President and administration on November 6th. Even then, we still might not be able to remain independent, but it will at least give us a chance. If we don’t, that chance goes away.
After Obama’s decisive reelection, the Wall Street Journal asks whether these companies will actually follow through on their layoff threats, but the companies are mostly keeping mum. The article quotes an employment lawyer who notes that the Citizens United case “opened the door much wider to employers attempting to influence their employees’ political attitudes.” The law here isn’t “cut and dry,” says the lawyer, but clearly these are efforts at voter intimidation, which is prohibited in some states.
Now, it occurs to us that there are also any number of businesses that would have suffered under a Romney administration, and, for that matter, university presses are likely among them. University presses, after all, serve the higher education market; most UPs get large portions of their income from their publications being used in college and university courses. It follows, then, that more students would equal greater financial health for university presses. So, applying the bottom-line thinking of a threatening CEO, it’s not hard to compare the higher education proposals of Obama and Romney and conclude that a Romney victory would have hurt university presses. As far as we’re aware, though, UP brass seem to have refrained from threatening their employees with layoffs under a Romney administration. May their restraint be a model for the Arthur Allens of the world.