Kai Ryssdal, Call Me!

Employer intimidation of voters is really breaking into the mainstream media. Yesterday, Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace profiled the story. Here are some of the questions he posed to University of Florida emeritus professor Joseph Little:

Is this legal? Can companies actually fire you if you don’t vote the right way? I mean I’ll be honest with you. This kind of floored me when I first read about this.

What’s the recourse? I mean I suppose you could always just try to find another job. But unemployment is almost 8 percent.

I imagine this is rare, right? I mean we’re talking the rare instance here.

We’ve been talking about this topic forever around here, of course. Mr. Ryssdal, if you’re reading, check these links out:

1. My Crooked Timber overview (written with Chris Bertram and Alex Gourevitch) of all the ways in which employers can dominate employees, which also addresses Ryssdal’s second question.

2. On bathroom breaks at the workplace.

3. AT&T prohibits workers from reading newspapers on their lunch breaks.

4. In 49 states, you can be fired for good reasons, bad reasons, or no reason at all.

5. Nine “really weird” things that can get you fired.

6. More states protect your right to smoke off the job than they do your right to engage in political activity.

7. Your rights at work.

8. Towards a general theory of workplace tyranny and American politics:

a. Birth Control McCarthyism

b. Fear, American Style

c. Fear: The History of a Political Idea (part 2).


  1. brahmsky October 23, 2012 at 11:38 am | #

    It’s amazing how widespread, as you and your friends document, these gross abuses are. And yet still how poorly understood/articulated at the level of official public discourse.

    • Cavoyo October 24, 2012 at 4:17 am | #

      Those making official public discourse aren’t on the recieving end of these gross abuses. Some of the discourse makers are, in fact, the cause of the abuses, and have every incentive to cover them up.

      • brahmsky October 24, 2012 at 8:03 am | #


      • ChristianPinko October 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm | #


  2. Chase October 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm | #

    Huh! When you a host a show that covers “business” as if it were a sport, I guess you tend to miss some fine points about how work actually happens. But I bet he knows how many points the Dow moved yesterday.

    • brahmsky October 24, 2012 at 8:05 am | #

      Is this a reply to me? Because it’s basically what I was saying.

  3. Jon Margolis October 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm | #

    OK, but how does the boss know how the worker voted? One goes into that booth (or whatever) alone. Nothing prevents the worker from going to the polls wearing a Romney T-shirt so the boss thinks she’s loyal, but then voting for Obama. Those other incursions.violations of workers rights and dignity seem real. But this one ain’t got no tooths.

    • Blinkenlights der Gutenberg October 25, 2012 at 8:50 am | #

      “OK, but how does the boss know how the worker voted?”

      It doesn’t matter. If I can force you to to tell *me* that you will vote for Romney, then I can trust with good probability that you will tell your co-workers that you will vote for Romney, and possibly even other people. You have to be consistent to sustain the lie.

      Even if, on poll day, you pull the lever for Obama, I’ve totally suppressed your ability to speak in favor of Obama, which I will count as a win for me.

      You will have to keep your true politics secret, only speaking to people you can trust… you know… like in the USSR.

      • Blinkenlights der Gutenberg October 25, 2012 at 8:52 am | #

        PS. If I was your boss, I wouldn’t even tell you who to vote for. I would just give you a Romney/Ryan sign and tell you to put it on your lawn.

        Would I have someone check to see if it was really there? That’s for me to know and you to find out.

      • Corey Robin October 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm | #

        I deleted your final comment here. Watch the name-calling, please.

  4. Sheldon October 25, 2012 at 11:44 pm | #

    I hate Kai Ryssdal, thanks for the opportunity to say that. You? I love your blog. Keep it up!

  5. scooternyc November 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm | #

    I’ve developed a list of NPR blackout periods. Prairie Home Companion is one-and WNYC gives you NO ALTERNATIVE to it on Saturdays, playing it on both FM and AM. another is Marketplace. There are many reasons. The most important is Kai Rysdall. It is so clear he finds himself clever, witty, that he has a ragin boner not just for everything he says but for how he says it. He was called a douchebag in another post. While that word repels me for reasons beyond its vagueness, Rysdall’s self-impressed smugness repels me more. So I’m giving the repellant moniker a pass: he’s a douchebag.

  6. scooternyc November 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm | #

    Kai Rysdall is a smug prick. I am finding way too many reasons to switch off NPR. He’a a huge one. (I’d posted something similar but it seems it didn’t appear. So if this is a repeat, my apologies.)

    • brahmsky November 6, 2012 at 7:59 pm | #

      That’s a good point. I too hate smug pricks.

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