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Coal Company Coerces Contributions

Remember the story about the coal company who forced their workers to attend a Romney rally in Ohio without pay so he could get a good photo op and tell them, “I tell ya, you’ve got a great boss”? Turns out that same company coerces their salaried employees to donate money to the company’s PAC, which gives money to Republican candidates.

The accounts of two sources who have worked in managerial positions at the firm, and a review of letters and memos to Murray employees, suggest that coercion may also explain Murray staffers’ financial support for Romney. Murray, it turns out, has for years pressured salaried employees to give to the Murray Energy political action committee (PAC) and to Republican candidates chosen by the company. Internal documents show that company officials track who is and is not giving. The sources say that those who do not give are at risk of being demoted or missing out on bonuses, claims Murray denies.

The Murray sources, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution, came forward separately. But they painted similar pictures of the fund-raising operation. “There’s a lot of coercion,” says one of them. “I just wanted to work, but you feel this constant pressure that, if you don’t contribute, your job’s at stake. You’re compelled to do this whether you want to or not.” Says the second: “They will give you a call if you’re not giving. . . . It’s expected you give Mr. Murray what he asks for.”

The worst thing about this is that it is not even remotely surprising.

Comments

  1. TGAP Dad says

    The same coercion is applied to salaried employees everywhere for United Way contributions. Two of my previous employers generated reports for senior management of who does and doesn’t contribute, and how much. While most UW charities don’t have the same political agendas, a great many of them have religious or social agendas at their core. Oh, and UW takes a cut of donations, usually between 10 and 15 percent.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    Remember, the justification for allowing Super PACs to spend unlimited amounts is based on freedom of speech. Even if that speech has to be coerced.

  3. fastlane says

    Hawker Beechcraft (formerly Raytheon Aircraft Company) did the same, but only for those manager level and above.

    They did come after all of us every year for the United Way, but I refused consistently every year. I support very few of the organizations on their list, and if I’m going to give my money to charity, I want to determine where it goes. And I absolutely refuse to support religiously coercive charities, or those who discriminate based on sexual orientation or beliefs, of which there were several on UW’s list.

  4. Didaktylos says

    But if the sheeple aren’t compelled to listen, the speakers’ freedom of speech is being restricted QED.

  5. D. C. Sessions says

    They did come after all of us every year for the United Way, but I refused consistently every year. I support very few of the organizations on their list, and if I’m going to give my money to charity, I want to determine where it goes.

    It’s called a “directed donation” and you can steer your money to any of their partner agencies. Most of mine goes to food banks, shelters, and other direct aid-to-people outfits that spend it on, you know, helping people.

  6. says

    Remember, the justification for allowing Super PACs to spend unlimited amounts is based on freedom of speech. Even if that speech has to be coerced.

    It’s for their own good. The Makers of Things know what’s best for everyone, and they force their employees to give money to their PACs because if they don’t, government collectivists will take over everything in the name of the general welfare, and force people to give money to charities regardless of their own values and interests. Oh wait…

    (Notice how this post gets the “Atlas Shrugged II” ad? Both creepy and appropriate, as always.)

  7. says

    Raging Bee “(Notice how this post gets the ‘Atlas Shrugged II’ ad? Both creepy and appropriate, as always.)”
    Ahem. It’s “Atlas Shrugged: Shrug Harder”.

  8. baal says

    Corporations are people my friends. -Romney

    Corporations are not people – the people who have an interest in a corporation have $$ and free speech. The SCOTUS got this flat wrong. A 100% ban on corporate ‘speech’ doesn’t stop any single person from speaking. History has been clear that ‘corp speech’ is little more than a extra loud microphone where the most privileged (richest) get to leverage less well off folks even against their interest.

  9. Trebuchet says

    @D.C. Sessions:

    It’s called a “directed donation” and you can steer your money to any of their partner agencies. Most of mine goes to food banks, shelters, and other direct aid-to-people outfits that spend it on, you know, helping people.

    All of this United Way stuff is off topic, but: “Directed Donations”, IMO, are a sham; a paperwork shuffle to show “your” donations going to your specified charities while making up the difference out of someone else’s, with no net change in the amount to any of the charities.

    I was actually able to catch my former company’s in-house charity at this by specifying my donations should go to the UGN of the county where my second home is. They happily confirmed they were doing so but in fact made no donations that way at all. I checked.

  10. plutosdad says

    TGAP Dad
    people might believe that, but it’s probably not true. I worked at a fortune 500 in the chicago area (now gone, sold to Google and others) on the database and system supporting their yearly United Way campaign, and there were tons of rumors that the company was tracking who gave and how much. But none of those rumors were true.
    No reports on who gave what were given to management, and managers only received reports of who responded at all (you could respond with “no gift”) just to get a response from everyone.
    They were very concerned with privacy of the responses.

    Trebuchet:
    “Directed Donations IMO, are a sham; a paperwork shuffle”
    Not at any non profit that has halfway competent legal advice or accountant. MOST donors direct their donations, not only a few. Therefore most of it does NOT go to where the leadership of the company may want to focus. Money may be fungible but there is a ton of law surrounding directed donations, and no company will flout that unless they want to get sued. For our company, we have to recruit money specifically targeted towards administration, since everyone wants to give to help people, not to “general” to help US.

  11. plutosdad says

    Trebuchet
    oh secondly, regarding your former company: they broke the law. plain and simple. It doesn’t mean directed donations do not work as designed. Of course, I work at a non profit that has a legal department and finance department and compliance department, so we actually follow the law, and have max ratings at all the charity rating services because of it. I guess that’s really the only way to tell if your money is going where you want it to.

  12. whheydt says

    Re: Corporations and UW…

    It’s been a long time, so I’m willing to name names…

    When I worked for Pacific Bell, they put great store in getting people to donate to UW. One dodge a lot of the folks “in the trenches” did was to sign up to make a donation, and then ask HR to cancel it between the time the fund drive ended and the first deduction was taken.

    I consistently refused to even sign up…to the point that I had one person doing the drive offer to *pay* me an amount equal to the minimal “pledge” if I’d sign up to give that amount.

    On UW itself… I was always suspicious about their financial claims. So far as I know, they never counted the value of the time “donated” to them by corporate executives to push the program in their overhead, but the companies undoubtedly took the value of that time as corporate charitable contributions.

    There’s more than one way to cook the books…

  13. Childermass says

    TGAP @ 3:

    The same coercion is applied to salaried employees everywhere for United Way contributions.

    Fixed it for you.

  14. iknklast says

    I think this sort of coercion is the new normal. I get dunned every year for United Way, and also for our school’s foundation. I always give to the foundation (it goes for scholarships), and we’re always told it’s totally ‘voluntary’ but if you don’t give fast enough, you’ll hear about it. Regular e-mails from the boss let you know pretty quick what’s expected of you.

    It takes all the joy out of doing something charitable when you’re essentially told you have to. I’d love to give to the foundation without being ‘dunned’.

  15. mikecline says

    And this is EXACTLY why money should not be in politics and is exactly why politicians want to keep lossening campaign contribution rules.

  16. mouse says

    (Unlurking) It kind of annoys me how jaded and snarky are the comments on this and other non-religious but still important issues.

    Think about the larger issue, figure out how you can help, and do it for god’s gaddamn sake!! Help some grassroots groups to fight these bastards. Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, etc., to name a few. Send $5, sign a letter to Congress, do something. It really helps.

  17. equisetum says

    They did come after all of us every year for the United Way, but I refused consistently every year.

    Me too. What really ticked me off about it was that you could choose to contribute automatically every year, but you could not choose to not contribute automatically. If you didn’t send in your form they sent someone from HR to have you sign the refusal. I thought about refusing that, too, but I felt kind of sorry for HR person.
    Fucking ridiculous, and coercive.

  18. says

    When I was in the USAF it was pretty common practice for them to sort of pointedly ask for contributions for charities (uncluding UW via payroll deductions). I was churlish about such things.

    One day someone asked for a donation for flowers (funeral stuff) which was also fairly common. I asked who had died. When they told me it was some high ranking officer’s mother (it may have been the Air Base’s wing commander) I sorta lost my shit for a minute. A day or two later I and another guy tried collecting some money to get a card and flowers for a dead cat. They stopped canvassing for donations, at least in my duty section.

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