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STUDY: 25% of Workers Receive Political Messages from their Boss, Sometimes with Threats


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According to a new paper published by the American Political Science Association, approximately one-quarter of American employees are burdened with their boss’ political beliefs. The paper, authored by Harvard University doctoral candidate Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, says one-fifth of those workers are subjected to “economic pressure” to vote a certain way. Workers report threats of firing, discipline, and wage cuts, according to People’s World:

The Hertel-Fernandez study shows that of the 25 percent of workers receiving political messages from the bosses, eleven percent got information about voter registration and turnout, with the rest evenly split between issues and legislation, candidates and political parties. Forty seven percent of workers said they agreed with the bosses’ messages. The rest (28 percent) had no opinion or opposed the boss (25 percent).

Some 43 percent of employer messages were conservative and another 30 percent were moderate.

Workers were twice as likely to be pressured by their employer than by unions, although the pressure rarely concerned unions themselves:

The proportion of workers receiving political messages from their employers, which sometimes includes information about which candidates and parties the bosses support or donate to, is double the share – 12 percent – who reported receiving messages from unions, he noted. Ironically, only four percent of the employers’ messages were about unions themselves, the study says, ahead of only messages about trade (three percent).

Still, Hertel-Fernandez points out that the costs of such behavior are significant:

If employers make a political request of their workers while also incorporating an explicit or implicit warning about job losses or wage cuts, workers might feel pressured to follow through on their employer’s request  — even if workers might not agree with their employer’s position.

This economic pressure might well violate workers’ political liberty, as workers are forced to behave in ways that they would not otherwise in order to appease their employers. These concerns are likely to be magnified as economic pressures on workers — such as the decline of the labor movement and low-wage competition —continue to mount.

Read the full report.


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