This Salon article by Corey Robin came as news to me. For those equally out of it, here’s an excerpt. At first I was surprised by the cynicism displayed, but of course I shouldn’t have been. These corporate control freaks are only acting in according to a basic rule of life: Why does a dog lick his balls? Because he can.
According to these employers, leveraging their workers, along with more traditional modes of lobbying, is the most effective way to control the political sphere. That’s how firms get laws passed and candidates elected. Mobilizing workers, employers claim, is more effective than making campaign donations, buying ads, or investing in large corporate lobbies like the Chamber of Commerce. Workers seem to agree: almost half of the workers Hertel-Fernandez surveyed claim that they changed their political behavior or beliefs because of their employers.
One of the reasons employee mobilization is so potent a force is that workers can be deployed with almost military-style precision. As Hertel-Fernandez explains in his paper, firms have extensive HR offices, which compile databases about where employees live and who their legislators (local, state and federal) are. Firms issue specific instructions to specific workers living on a specific street, say, to write personal letters to a specific representative. Then the firms fire more volleys, lobbying that representative with reminders of how many letters were sent and from where.
To ensure that workers do as they are told, firms use online systems that track whether a worker opens an email from her boss, clicks on the links, downloads information and sends her message to her representative.