As reported on Up with Chris this morning, Mike Elk has an important story out on how the Koch Brothers are trying to influence workers in the companies they own to vote for Republicans. Focusing on their Georgia Pacific plywood and paper mills in Oregon, Elk demonstrates the long arm of the Koch Brothers on our elections. I had two thoughts on this. First, don’t mess with Northwestern timber workers. There’s enough workplace radicalism left in that industry that I’m not surprised at all they were willing to talk. Second, what’s scary to me is the effect of Citizens United on state elections. Not only did the Koch Brothers tell their workers to vote Romney, but they also provided a list of people in state elections that support their agenda. In local and state elections, it doesn’t take a lot to swing the vote. Especially in some of these small timber towns, Republicans can win election to the statehouse. Oregon’s legislature is basically split evenly between the two parties. So this matters a lot.
And of course, there’s the whole issue of workplace intimidation. I mean, why not just go full Gilded Age and fire workers who don’t vote the company line? In fact, that’s already happening. Who’s going to stop the new Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan? Labor reporters and bloggers?
….Georgia-Pacific felt it necessary to issue a response. Also, for the sake of full disclosure, I should note that my father’s last job was in a Georgia-Pacific timber mill. Nonunion unfortunately.