McDonald's Boss Tells Employees To Vote For His Candidates Or Risk Losing Pay Raises & Benefits

The owner of a McDonald’s restaurant in Canton, OH, may have gone a little too far in attempting to get out the vote for the candidates he supports in tomorrow’s election when he placed notes in his employees’ pay envelopes saying their pay and benefits were at risk if certain nominees didn’t win.

The pamphlet included with the staffers’ pay was in support of three candidates up for election. It said, “If the right people are elected, we will be able to continue with raises and benefits at or above the current levels. If others are elected, we will not.”

A rep at McDonald’s HQ tells the NY Times that the owner’s decision to distribute the pamphlets in his employees’ pay was an “unfortunate lapse in judgment” on the owner’s part and that “he’s disappointed with himself.”

Through the corporate rep, the eatery owner released a statement saying, “For those that I have offended, I sincerely apologize.”

The owner’s decision to hand out the pamphlets the way he did might have violated a 1953 Ohio statute that prohibits political material from being attached to wage envelopes.

McDonald’s Workers Are Told Whom to Vote for [NY Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    “For those that I have offended, I sincerely apologize.”

    Followed with:

    “For those that agreed with me, high fives all around!”

    • a354174 says:

      He did have quite a lapse of judgment. He Seriously thinks Strickland will allow for raises along with the other liberals.

      Then again, this is a liberal thing to do.

      I guess we shall see.

      • darklighter says:

        What the hell are you talking about? The owner was pushing Republican candidates, but does it really matter? This isn’t a political issue; this is a civil rights issue. Instead of trolling, why don’t you pull your head out of your ass and recognize that this is reprehensible, no matter who you’re voting for?

      • BobOki says:

        Best part of politics, a354174, you can tell a douche bag with what buzz words they use. If you use non-defining terms that apply to a massive and broad spectrum of people with no real lines draw as to what it REALLY means, then apply hate towards those people, it is very easy to surmise that you know very little about what you speak, are uninformed or misinformed, speak what you don’t know loudly, and think you are right. This goes for both sides of the fence, and quite frankly has no place here at Consumerist.

        Back to the article, I hope this manager gets severely reprimanded. I don’t think termination should occur, but he should be VERY obviously reminded just where the line stands and that he crossed it. I had a boss that tried to us all to vote, republican, and I was voting 3rd party. I vocally told him to his face I would not vote as someone else wants, no matter who they are. He threatened to fire me, I called the mayors office on his phone on speaker, and they reminded him exactly where he can stick his threat. They also kindly asked if I wished to press this matter further with officers, but none was needed. I was not treated badly at all, the boss was impressed I stood up for my rights, and I was later apologized to after his wife also ripped him a new one ;P

    • Kodai says:

      can nobody say “I’m Sorry” anymore?

  2. Skellbasher says:

    “The owner’s decision to hand out the pamphlets the way he did might have violated a 1953 Ohio statute that prohibits political material from being attached to wage envelopes.”

    I don’t think there’s much ‘might’ about it.

    • Nighthawke says:

      I think there are more statute violations than just the state laws being broken. There are regulations leading all the way back to perhaps the Jefferson presidency.

      This is borderline bribery, electoral fraud, and perhaps some form of kickback may be part of it if can be proven, But the worst possible violation may be trading in influence. If there are connections between the owner and politicians regarding this extortion scheme, there will be blood on the walls before this month is finished.

      Even the mention of such things to employees has placed that person in a blighted light and now any “honest” pol will avoid him like he has leprosy.

  3. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    The headline is a little misleading – the owner didn’t threaten to cut his employees’ wages and benefits if they didn’t vote for his candidate. It was severe lapse in judgment on his part, but it wasn’t like he told his workers they had to vote for the candidate he chose or else they’d lose their jobs or something. It was an attempt at fearmongering – much like other people do by saying stuff like, “if you don’t vote for (candidate), you’ll all be on the street and the banks will take your money!”

    • duxup says:

      The headline doesn’t say that the owner threatened to cut their pay.

      • frank64 says:

        “Risk losing pay raises” – close. OK you got him on a technicality, but the headline is still kind of misleading.

        • kmw2 says:

          No it isn’t, that’s exactly what the letter said. “If you vote for these people, then we can keep paying you. Otherwise maybe not.”

          • DanRydell says:

            In fact that is NOT exactly what the letter said according to the article.

            Your version: “If you vote for these people, then we can keep paying you…”
            Reality: “If the right people are elected, we will be able to continue…”

            It’s a subtle difference, but if the defense of the headline is that it should be taken literally, then it’s still wrong.

          • dolemite says:

            Actually, he didn’t say “maybe not”, he came right out and said “we will not”.

        • heismanpat says:

          It’s not misleading. It’s just very literal and you took it the wrong way before you read the article.

    • LightningUsagi says:

      I thought the same thing…but after I read the story and re-read the headline, I saw what they were going for. I agree, tho, it was misleading.

  4. u1itn0w2day says:

    Alot of companies do this. It might not be ” officially ” sanctioned but some lower level management took upper management political rhetoric as an order. I’ve also seen unions do this as well.

    Or this an excuse to do some butt hole surfing with corporate.

    • NatsuMatto says:

      A union endorsing a candidate is hardly the same thing as an employer making vague threats about your job security.

      • JayPhat says:

        I have e problem with a union endorsing a candidate. Why? Because I watch them do the exact same thing and be “protected” under the law. The local leader of the UFCW came into my store while I was out recently(if I had been there the conversation would have been alot different). My cashier complained that they told them to vote for Strickland, because if they didn’t “things would get alot worse for everyone.” Thankfully, she didn’t tell them what she was thinking or else I would have had to fire her.

  5. pirate_panda says:

    I’m disappointed with him too. But not that surprised, to be honest.

  6. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    Seems kind of arbitrary too, like saying “Everyone will get a raise if my team wins Sunday’s game!”

    I’m all for encouraging people to vote, but telling them that if his guys don’t win, there will be financial repercussions for the employees is shameful.

    • frank64 says:

      He was more than likely talking about the policies that will develop with the elections of different candidates. Unions do it all the time. Not in envelopes, but in statements and peer pressure.

      Not saying it was against the law for putting it in the pay, but the statements are SOP for many.

      I think it is counter productive though. Most employee’s reactions, especially at a fast food place would motivate more to vote the opposite.

      • MrEvil says:

        That’s different though, Union’s are not formed to make money. They are formed to maintain a safe and equitable working environment for the employees. The membership of the union can vote on their leadership the same way they can vote for their leadership in government. At least it was democratic when I was a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers.

      • Kate says:

        unions are trade organizations, not the employers. They can’t let you go if you don’t vote correctly.

  7. BBP says:

    I think McDonald’s food is more of an “unfortunate lapse in judgment”.

  8. sendbillmoney says:

    Which candidates do they have to vote for in order to get an economy that will see them working at a better gig than McDonald’s?

  9. SexCpotatoes says:

    Yes… VoteRepublican… because who else has promised to repeal the minimum wage, scupper health care reform, and make YOU pay MORE than your fair share of taxes?

    • DevsAdvocate says:

      Minimum wage should be repealed. It messes up the whole supply and demand thing when it comes to the workforce.

    • c_c says:

      Seriously McDonald’s is at the front lines of the minimum wage battle … if Republican’s had their way a lot of those workers would still be making $5.15 an hour…

      • DevsAdvocate says:

        When you have a surplus of ditch diggers, then digging ditches should be cheap… unless you have minimum wage, then you have to pay 1 ditch digger an inflated wage that does not correspond to his worth as a worker, which then means you ditch digging operation just costs a lot more than it should.

        • c_c says:

          Thanks for the example from a high school micro-Econ textbook.
          Which is all fine & great in a perfect free market with perfect information and no externalities. However, such free market does not exist in the real world, which necessitates the intervention of the government …

          • DevsAdvocate says:

            That’s socialist hogwash. Government intervention messed things up to begin with. If an employer has a position open and wants to pay a wage of $5 per day with a free leather strap for lunch, then so be it. You’re not forced to work for that employer.

        • webweazel says:

          The ditch digger is so much more expensive because of the 9 guys (at $35/hour each) standing around the hole swilling coffee while WATCHING one guy dig said hole.
          Saw it myself driving by a road construction years ago.

          • Hypercube says:

            I’m impressed that you could tell they were being paid $35/each just by driving by the worksite. What a unique superpower to have!

            • webweazel says:

              Oh, gee, thanks, I should have written:
              (at POTENTIALLY $35/hour each, depending on the current rate and the contractor and whether they were getting full time benefits or working part time so the employer could be cheap and not give them full time so they wouldn’t have to give out benefits, minus the tax burden at the year and in the state it was)
              Or maybe I should have pulled over, ran over all the cones in order to stop and take a survey of every single guy’s pay rate and take notes just on the perchance I might comment about it sometime in the distant future on the interwebs, and some pedantic dickhead feels calling me on some hair-splitting detail.
              Bite me.

          • Dre' says:

            When you have 1 shovel & 1+n workers you take turns. Have you ever even used a shovel before?

        • DH405 says:

          Right. Let’s ditch minimum wage. Then YOU, as the theoretical ditch digging company operator, can explain to digger #5’s children why they can’t buy dinner tonight because daddy is only worth $3/hr to you.

        • Gulliver says:

          I can find a 12 year old to do it cheaper, so in a TRUE free market economy I can hire him. People do not pay below minimum wage because of the surplus of labor. They do it to pad their profits. I’d also suggest that is why service in this country is so bad. Why do I care of I lose my job? If you are paying me shit, you will get what your pay is worth to ME. I suppose the real fair way to do it is to pay by the job. I will pay you $100 per ditch dug.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      Don’t forget that their ‘small government’ doesn’t extend to women who want to control their own bodies or same-sex couples who’d like equal rights, either — they’re all about ‘big government’ controlling people’s personal lives in those cases!

      • frank64 says:

        As a moderate libertarian I agree. I cringe a bit when they talk about small government but then get riled about gay rights and such. I do have to vote on what has the most impact, and luckily the Dems and moderates keep the morality issues in check. In my area most Repubs are moderate and that make it easier for me.

    • DanRydell says:

      I doubt many (or any) of the employees at that McDonalds make minimum wage. In my years of working “minimum wage” jobs, I didn’t know anyone who actually made minimum wage.

      I’m not sure what tax proposal you’re referring to, but currently the only people who could argue that they’re paying more than their fair share of taxes are the wealthy. The wealthy pay so much in taxes, none of the rest of us have to pay our “fair share.” The Republicans may want to shift the balance some, but I haven’t heard any proposal that would have anyone other than the wealthy paying more than their fair share.

      • frank64 says:

        Well, in Democratic terms: fair share = current amount + more. Rinse repeat.

      • s73v3r says:

        The top 5% in this nation control about 90% of the wealth. For them to shoulder anything less than 90% of the tax burden is unfair.

        • frank64 says:

          No they already paid taxes on the 90% of what they own(if that is the number), it is their share of INCOME they need to pay for.

          Of course when they sell the 90% they will pay tax on the gain too.

        • dg says:

          Bullshit. We should stop with trying to make everything ‘fair’ for everyone. Have a flat tax – 15% on your income. Everyone pays it. None of this “capital gains tax, death tax, estate tax, etc.” crap – no deductions, no exemptions – just 15% on your income.

          And that 15% should be the maximum tax rate – so the Feds, State, and Local goons all need to figure out how to live within their means of 15%. Not 15% to the Feds, 15% to the State, and 15% to the Local imbeciles…

          We pay too much damn money to governments who are staffed with spendthrifts. I’ll manage my own money just fine, thank you very much… All we need from government is roads, water, and defense of the borders – we’ll handle the rest.

      • Oh4Sh0 says:

        In rural towns is where you’ll find many minimum wage workers. I worked near minimum wage at McD’s when I was 16 (5.40/mwage was 5.15). Most of the other area fast food shops paid minimum wage to start.

        Abundance of workers + few jobs = minimum wage.

  10. u1itn0w2day says:

    Hasn’t anyone been given a form letter by someone at work to sign. I did that onetime early in my working career because both a union and company supported a particular measure. MISTAKE

    Not only was I mad at myself for not making my own decision I was deluged with junk mail from and candidates and lobby groups. If you want to post a robotic vote for your employer is one thing but NEVER sign a form letter for anyone or either side of the issue.

  11. TuxthePenguin says:

    Putting aside the fact that this guy is a MORON for actually putting it in writing…

    But say that he told his employees this during a staff meeting. Would that be improper? Its not like he’s saying vague generalities, he’s offering what he expects the medium- to long-term impact of the election for his employees.

    One of my employees is a HUGE proponent of the Fair Tax (replace income tax with national sales tax) and I’ve had to take time in a meeting to explain if that actually passed, many of them would be out of a job (and I’d probably close my practice). Granted, that’s MUCH more direct and narrowed… but is it unreasonable for the employer to “come clean” as to the possibilities?

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      I agree an employer should be able to tell employees how politics MIGHT effect their business.

      But there is a fine line between informing and fear mongering.

      • FatLynn says:

        Yeah, I’m not too clear on this. My company has repeatedly given us information on candidates or policies that would affect our business. Is that illegal?

    • petey says:

      The “Fair Tax” is far from that.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      Can you imagine the drop in commerce of all kinds if we went to a national sales tax on the scale necessary to replace the income tax? You would have stores closed everywhere. Would you buy a new car if you had to pay a 28% premium over sticker? Would you keep your cell phone plan, cable TV service, etc. if prices suddenly jumped 28% overnight? You would have to seriously think about your own level of spending.

      And then you’d be out of a job as the drop in consumer spending trickles down to you. And it will, eventually. Grapes of Wrath all over again.

      • frank64 says:

        But your pay would be about 25% higher. I think income is the way to go, but flat. I hate the class warfare we have now. If you have a fixed percentage, no write offs and with a fixed standard deduction, the rich would pay more, but we would all have a stake in spending. The difference in what they pay compared to what they pay now would be neglible, and we could get on with our national issues head on. Right now the discussion of 4% with the marginal rates means nothing compared to our other issues.

        That said he was just throwing that out as an example of a discussion he had with his employee.

        • petey says:

          Not the point of his post. It was an EXAMPLE.

        • c_c says:

          Uh not if you’re in the lower-middle of the tax bracket – the net effect of income tax is nowhere near 25% of income for a lot of folks. On the other hand, it would be a huge tax break for those on the higher end of the bracket

          • frank64 says:

            Since many don’t pay any tax at all you have a point. Some would pay more. The average rate we pay is lower than the stated rates due to the deductions. The rich do have bigger deductions, so taking those away would increase at least the taxable income. I think a fair RATE would be fair for all with a specific standard deduction. I don’t think the rich would end up paying much less, but if it is a little less, they would at least be paying the same percentage of income. The rich would still pay proportionately more towards our government than others.

            • wildgift says:

              The top marginal tax rate is 35%. So a 25% sales tax would be a big discount for them. Additionally, they don’t spend all their money on purchases – they invest it, and that is taxed at a different rate, either cap gains or regular income. So the rich make out like the dirty thieves they are with this “UNFair Tax”.

              The poor, on the other hand, would spend nearly all their wages on products, and pay at a tax rate much higher than their current income tax, which is 15%. Not to mention that they have the standard deduction.

              This discussion is moot, anyway. If you proposed to get rid of the deduction for donations to a church or nonprofit, all the churches and nonprofits would fight the bill.

      • healthdog says:

        But what if your pay simultaneously went up 28%, because you are no longer paying income tax?

      • jonmason1977 says:

        of course prices would appear to jump, but at the same time, your income tax bill would go to ZERO. If everything goes up 28% but your take-home income also were (for example) to go up 30%, then guess what – you are better off overall… not to mention that nobody would pay the fairtax on their spending up to the poverty level.

        • s73v3r says:

          Do you really think they’d actually abolish the Income Tax? Don’t you think it’d be more likely that a VAT would be in addition to it?

        • wildgift says:

          You’re only better off if your income taxes are greater than the sales taxes. If you’re paying at the 15% rate, the increased sales tax will cost you more. (In other words, the poor would be subsidizing the rich with this tax.)

      • VeganPixels says:

        There’s not a nation on the planet with a 28% VAT/GST or national sales tax.

  12. petey says:

    I’m guessing whoever turned in the boss to the media realized that his interests and his bosses interests were two different things.

  13. dolemite says:

    Wow, there is no other crime here besides some obscure law from the 1950s? No federal law was violated?

    I ran into the same thing when I worked at a Christian college. They’d send out emails stating which politicians the University supported (as if the rest of us were too brainless to make our own decisions). Now, they didn’t come out and attach it to paychecks, but you knew what they were hinting at.

    • Skellbasher says:

      It’s not an obscure law. It’s the law.

      Corporations should not be allowed to pressure their employees to vote in any direction. (Well, unless the corporation is advertising on behalf of a candidate, then according to the Supreme Court it’s ok.)

      • evnmorlo says:

        The anonymous ballot makes “pressure” impossible, though I guess they could force you to register as a Republican

        • Tim says:

          Seriously? By that logic, if a man holding a gun stands outside of the voting location and says “Vote for so-and-so or I’ll kill you,” that should not run afoul of any election laws, because it’s still a secret ballot.

          • frank64 says:

            The gun thing and the threaten to kill someone changes things a bit.

            Did the boss threaten to kill the employees?

  14. bradb21 says:

    Why does Consumerist only cover the anti-conservative stories? Where are all the stories about the union bosses telling (threatening) their members on how to vote? This site is supposed to be about consumer issues, but is becoming more and more a left wing political site.

    • frank64 says:

      Um yeah, you must be new here. (:

    • RStormgull says:

      Watch out. Much more of that talk and you’ll be perma-banned from commenting for being a “Rethuglican.” Then you’ll be accused of stealing grandma’s pension check, starving people on welfare, supporting tax cuts for the ‘wealthy’ (aka above poverty line), supporting big oil, supporting big power, baby murder, being a racist and, essentially, everything else.

      Your point on union members being threatened on how to vote is valid and results in major election fraud every election year.

      Having said that, the owner handing out political statements with paychecks is still a douche.

      • veg-o-matic says:

        Please demonstrate how unions are responsible for actual, honest-to-goodness “major election fraud” every single election year.

        As opposed to .. say.. easily hackable voting machines created by Republican-supporting companies, polling places in minority neighborhoods running out of provisional and paper ballots way before 8pm, and “election reminders” in Spanish that carried the wrong date.

      • NatsuMatto says:

        No, the point isn’t “valid.” I’ve been a union member for nine years, and while the union ENDORSES certain candidates that are more pro-labor (which, *gasp*, are not generally GOP candidates), I’ve never experienced a single second of “pressure” on who to vote for. How on earth would they KNOW who I voted for, anyway?

    • Tim says:

      Unions don’t control your paychecks, or supervise you for 40 hours a week. Employers do.

  15. HaveSomeCheese says:

    Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!

  16. marillion says:

    At least the manager wasn’t taking a percentage of their paychecks to contribute to the coffers of certain political candidates, even if those employees don’t support that candidate.

    That would be unthinkable! Oh wait.. That already happens in union shops around the country…

    That said, what the manager did was wrong, no matter how accurate the assessment might have been.

    • Tim says:

      Did you miss the Citizens United decision? The one that gives corporations the right to donate as much money as they want to political causes?

      • frank64 says:

        Not taking it out of my pay. Taking it out of the companies profits is much different. I guess you could also say the customers pay, the shareholders pay.

      • marillion says:

        I did miss that.. And if that’s the case, it stinks too.. I don’t care who they’re giving to, it’s wrong.. :(

    • Vermont2US says:

      “At least the manager wasn’t taking a percentage of their paychecks to contribute to the coffers of certain political candidates, even if those employees don’t support that candidate.

      That would be unthinkable! Oh wait.. That already happens in union shops around the country…”

      That is against federal law for a union to use members’ dues in that way. Members may make voluntary contributions via wage withholding to a union for political action, but the union cannot use members’ dues for that purpose.

  17. CookiePuss says:

    “..we will be able to continue with raises and benefits at or above the current levels.”

    Not very enticing Mr. McDonalds owner. I believe your proposition would be better received if you threw in something that actually had value, like McRib coupons.

  18. Veeber says:

    Why is it always “For those I have offended …” Why not just say “I sincerely apologize to everyone”

    • vizsladog says:

      Cuz maybe I wasn’t offended?

    • RedOryx says:

      Because it’s a way to apologize without really apologizing. It shifts it to the person who is offended, for being offended, instead of the person who actually made the mistake.

  19. Mr. Spy says:

    I’m tossed. It was possibly an honest mistake. But then, I doubt it. People who make threats like this know what they are doing. And they are the first ones to throw the “OOPS!” card. Well, buddy, you violated the law. And the law doesn’t like, “oops”. He is just surprised he got caught. The implication was very clear. And the law is 100% on the employees side. I thought we got rid of this a hundred years ago. I remember reading about how employers would do the same thing, except with threats of lost jobs, cut wages or worse…

    “I apologize” should not be a free ticket to avoid prosecution. I hate this BS corporate playbook to wiggling out of binds. The “Unfortunate lapse in judgement” crap should not be allowed to fly.

    And court is where it should be decided. We don’t know the guy. We don’t know the employees. Get everyone together, talk it out and let the jury decide whether he is guilty. I honestly believe that if this guy is a nice guy who made a mistake and that if a few employees defend him and he can get others to vouch for him, well… It was probably just a mistake. But frankly, even then… The employees might just be trying to get in good with him or are afraid of backlash. Course, if he’s a jerk then he should get his big fine. Hopefully it’ll remind him to not inject politics into work.

  20. captadam says:

    If I actually ate at McDonalds, and if I had the misfortune of driving through Canton, I’d be sure not to eat at any of these McDonalds.

  21. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    And what if you’re 16 and working at that McDonald’s?

    • frank64 says:

      You can’t vote. He may get the statement anyway? Who cares. The employees can read it and throw it away. They can vote how they want, probably now for the other candidate.

  22. MacUser1986 says:

    I hate these quoted quotes, they are nothing but lies.

  23. Nic715 says:

    My employer always puts ad flyers for Direct TV, a local chain of car dealerships and Visa in with ours….I always wanna ask them if they looked at my check before they put the flyers in there… how they think I could afford a new car on my salary is beyond me! Then again, at least I have a job/benefits…so can’t complain too much!

  24. MistahFixit says:

    Clearly, this man is not the Hero of Canton. ;3

  25. scoosdad says:

    “he’s disappointed with himself.”

    That’s got to be the wierdest bit of corporate-speak I’ve ever heard.

  26. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    “For those who I have offended…” Ah yes…the “non-apology apology” has finally filtered down to the masses.

  27. Vermont2US says:

    “At least the manager wasn’t taking a percentage of their paychecks to contribute to the coffers of certain political candidates, even if those employees don’t support that candidate.

    That would be unthinkable! Oh wait.. That already happens in union shops around the country… “

    Actually, that is against the law. Union dues cannot be used in that way. It has to be a voluntary contribution from the member; it can be taken directly from the member’s paycheck, but only with his consent.

  28. savdavid says:

    So what happens to the law breakin’ manager? Guess nothing.

  29. e065702 says:

    Won’t be prosecuted . . it should be, but it won’t.

    Private enterprise always gets a ride on these types of things. Boy you can be rest assured if it was ACORN doing something like this we would never hear the end of it.

  30. Kevin says:

    It doesn’t matter who it is, it’s none of their fucking business who you vote for.

  31. gman863 says:

    105 posts and nobody’s thought of this yet…

    Was one of the candidates Mayor McCheese?

  32. rbb says:

    Hey Consumerist – where’s the article on Senator Reid conspiring with Harrah’s Casino to pressure its employees to get out and vote. Or is this the wrong type of story because it does not deal with NYC or Republicans?