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Murray’s false energy: Should companies be able to force employees to support certain political candidates? November 21, 2012

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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American coal baron Robert Murray was the subject of significant criticism in October 2012, after The New Republic published a story about how Murray Energy and its subsidiaries aggressively forced employees to donate to conservative political campaigns. Murray and his employees have a history of giving millions of dollars to Republican candidates, and many workers in his mines have been pressured to stand behind candidates at several rallies. Mitt Romney, for instance, appeared at one such rally, where a banner was hung from the stage reading, “COAL COUNTRY STANDS WITH MITT.”

Murray’s technique has become pretty controversial. According to internal documents, the coal boss would get upset when discovering that employees had not yet contributed financially to certain campaigns. When participation was slow, Murray and his fellow executives would email employees spreadsheets with names of those people who had not yet given money to pet political causes. According to those employees, failure to fall in line would sometimes mean lower bonuses, at the very east. Many were disgruntled with the practice, but feared losing their jobs if they spoke out.

For more on Robert Murray and his war against Obama, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Were Murray’s practices unethical? Why, or why not?

2.  Should political candidates be punished for working with companies to pressure employees to vote a certain way? Why, or why not?

3.  How might the political endorsements from a corporation lead to backlash?

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