MSNBC’s Chris Hayes reported Sunday that Arthur Allen, the founder, president, and CEO of ASG Software Solutions, recently emailed his employees asking them to vote for Mitt Romney for the sake of the company– and their jobs. The subject line for the September 30 email was, “Will the US Presidential election directly impact your future jobs at ASG? Please read below.”
Just last week, founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts David Siegel made a similar move, telling employees he’d have “no choice” but to reduce the size of the company if Obama wins.
Allen’s letter read, according to MSNBC:
We have a chance, as individuals, to help turn the sick US economy into a healthy economy, and positively influence the global economy as well. This chance comes on November 6th, when we elect a new President and administration. The US and the world need to elect individuals who have business experience. Neither the world nor the US can stand to elect politicians any longer. In my view, and in the view of most business leaders, if you give politicians 100 questions, they will give you back 100 wrong answers simply because they have no basis for making those decisions. Would you hire a person with no experience to do brain surgery? Of course not, but that’s what the US voters did in 2009. Why does the world keep hiring politicians to run our global economies when they have no experience? It just makes no sense, and yet the world keeps doing it over and over again. Let’s take the lead on November 6th and show the world how it should and can be done. [Emphasis added]
The CEO then explained what the re-election of President Obama would mean for the company– and the jobs of everyone who works there:
Many of you have been with ASG for over 5, 10, 15, and even 20 years. As you know, together, we have been able to keep ASG an independent company while still growing our revenues and customers. But I can tell you, if the US re-elects President Obama, our chances of staying independent are slim to none. I am already heavily involved in considering options that make our independence go away, and with that all of our lives would change forever. I believe that a new President and administration would give US citizens and the world the renewed confidence and optimism we all need to get the global economies started again, and give ASG a chance to stay independent. If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come. Remember, in the world of business, companies are consolidators or they get consolidated; so far ASG has been a consolidator, completing over 60 acquisitions in our 26 year history. When we buy a company, we eliminate about 60 percent of the salaries of the employees of that company. If we lose our independence and get consolidated, the same thing would happen to ASG’s employees.
I am asking you to give us one more chance to stay independent by voting in a new President and administration on November 6th. Even then, we still might not be able to remain independent, but it will at least give us a chance. If we don’t, that chance goes away. [Emphasis added]
He concluded with an apology for the “blunt” email, but said those who know him will recognize how “serious” the situation is based on his decision.
But is it inappropriate for a boss to even write such an email?
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said the email feels “fundamentally coercive,” but another panelist said people have the right to say what they think will happen if President Obama is re-elected.
Hayes interjected to say the difference is that the boss has the ability to actually fire people and make those things happen, but was again challenged.
“What do you propose to do about that? Do you want to ban him from selling his company if the president gets re-elected?”
Hayes admitted that the email is constitutionally protected free speech, even if it feels “fundamentally coercive.”
What do you think?