– Political Entitlement Not Facts Drive Ohio McDonald’s Franchise Owner to Illegally Coerce Employees to Vote GOP –
By Tanya Somanader at ThinkProgress
McDonald’s sells itself as the ultimate happy place. But this election season, a local McDonald’s franchise in Canton, Ohio is telling employees how to keep the company happy: vote Republican.
Along with their recent paychecks, employees received a pamphlet from their employer on company letter head that stated “as the election season is here, we wanted you to know which candidates will help our business grow in the future.” While pointing out that the vote is the employee’s “personal decision,” the pamphlet explicitly states, “if the right people are elected we will be able to continue with raises and benefits at or above our present levels. If others are elected we will not … .”
In explicitly endorsing gubernatorial candidate John Kasich (R), Senate candidate Rob Portman (R), and House candidate Jim Renacci (R), the pamphlet — which was directly inside the envelope with the paycheck — appears to directly violate Ohio Revised Code regarding elections:
No employer or his agent or a corporation shall print or authorize to be printed upon any pay envelopes any statements intended or calculated to influence the political action of his or its employees; or post or exhibit in the establishment or anywhere in or about the establishment any posters, placards, or hand bills containing any threat, notice, or information that if any particular candidate is elected or defeated work in the establishment will cease in whole or in part, or other threats expressed or implied, intended to influence the political opinions or votes of his or its employees.
“This is an outrageous attack on one of the most fundamental rights our citizens enjoy – the right to vote for the candidate of his/her choice without economic fear or threat,” states attorney Allen Schulman who is investigating the matter. “It is particularly egregious that in this time of harsh economic conditions, a corporation would stoop to this level of voter intimidation.”
Not to mention that Kasich, Portman, and Renacci all oppose the health care reform law, a law that ensures employees like those at McDonald’s can afford health coverage and provides companies like McDonald’s with “significant flexibility to maintain coverage for workers.” And should these three adopt the Republican view of the minimum wage, the only happy face at the this McDonald’s will be the employer’s.
Update: The local McDonald’s franchise owner Paul Siegfried released a statement admitting to an “error in judgment” and apologized to “those that I have offended. However, as The American Prospect’s Adam Serwer notes, Siegfried “doesn’t actually take back” that he’d be unable to “continue with raises and benefits” if Democrats are elected. Here’s the statement:
As an independent business owner, my employees are a top priority for me. I work hard to create a positive restaurant environment for everyone. I greatly value my employees and the contributions they make to my business, each and every day. Without a doubt it’s my employees’ right and his or her choice, if they decide to vote, and if so, for whom. I strive to comply with all laws, including state and federal election laws. Distributing this communication was an error of judgment on my part. Please know, it was never my intention to offend anyone. For those that I have offended, I sincerely apologize.
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