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.
In his free time, Mike White is a member of the board of directors for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a conservative organization that seeks to “advances the public interest in the rule of law, individual liberty, constitutional government, and a robust civil society.”
What’s notable about the email sent by Mike White to employees of Rite-Hite is that it may violate state law, specifically Statute 12.03(3), which states, “No employer or agent of an employer may distribute to any employee printed matter containing any threat, notice or information that if a particular ticket of a political party or organization or candidate is elected or any referendum question is adopted or rejected, work in the employer’s place or establishment will cease, in whole or in part, or the place or establishment will be closed, or the salaries or wages of the employees will be reduced, or other threats intended to influence the political opinions or actions of the employees.”
Ironically (but not surprisingly) the Journal Sentinal report indicates that while Mike White was critical of President Obama’s tax policies in the email he sent to his employees, Rite-Hite was actually awarded a grant of just over $26,000 in economic stimulus money under the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.