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In a screenshot from a Mitt Romney ad, Romney stands in front of coal miners whose boss had made attendance at Romney's speech mandatory and unpaid.
The coal miners forced to serve as an unpaid backdrop for a Mitt Romney campaign appearance aren't the only Murray Energy employees who have to support their boss's favored Republican candidates, it turns out. Salaried workers, who don't make such picturesque, coal-covered backdrops, but who earn more money, are expected to write checks and attend the boss's political fundraisers. The pressure is not subtle, Alec MacGillis reports:
Internal Murray documents show just how upset Murray becomes when employees fail to join the giving. In missives, he cajoles employees to attend fund-raisers and scolds them when they or their subordinates do not. In cases of low participation, reminders from his lieutenants have included tables or spreadsheets showing how each of the eleven Murray subsidiaries was performing. And at least one note came with a list of names of employees who had not yet given. “What is so difficult about asking a well-paid, salaried employee to give us three hours of his/her time every two months?” Murray writes in a March 2012 letter. “We have been insulted by every salaried employee who does not support our efforts.” He concludes: “I do not recall ever seeing the attached list of employees . . . at one of our fund-raisers.”
That's yielded big money for Republican candidates—more than $2 million in recent years, and $120,000 to Romney. But not everyone contributing is doing so willingly, and some feel that bonuses are at stake:
At the time of hiring, supervisors tell employees that they are expected to contribute to the company PAC by automatic payroll deduction—typically 1 percent of their salary, a level confirmed by a 2008 letter to employees from the PAC’s treasurer. (That letter also assures employees that they would not be “disadvantaged” by not giving.) Employees are given a form to sign, explaining that the giving is voluntary.
Riiight ... and if you were told by your supervisor that you were expected to give money as part of your new job, how voluntary would you feel that was, no matter what the piece of paper said? Murray Energy's lawyer says it's all done legally, it's just that CEO Bob Murray is personally enthusiastic about the candidates, and absolutely no bonuses are on the line:
McKown says the two sources who suggest generous employees get bigger bonuses are just wrong. “It’s Mr. Murray’s view of what the employee’s contribution was to the company that month,” he says.
I mean, why would you suspect illegal pressure or reimbursement-by-bonus just because the CEO who sends around memos saying it's an insult when employees don't give to his candidates is the same CEO who makes monthly bonus decisions?

But Mitt Romney is only too happy to cash those checks, just as he stood in front of miners who'd had the opportunity to earn their pay taken from them in order to be forced to listen to Romney and told them they had a great boss.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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