October 29. 2012 11:00AM - Last modified: October 29. 2012 11:56AM

Activists file complaint against Rite-Hite chairman

A group of faith and community members today announced they are filing a formal complaint against Rite-Hite Holding Corp. founder and chairman Michael White for an alleged violation of Wisconsin election law.

The complaint filed with the Government Accountability Board (GAB) was filed over an e-mail sent by White to his employees last week, alleging that the e-mail was an attempt to intimidate more than 1,400 employees into voting for Republican Mitt Romney.
In his message, White wrote, “Every Rite-Hite employee in America should understand the personal consequences to them of having our tax rates increase dramatically if President Obama is re-elected, forcing taxpayers to fund President Obama’s future deficits and social programs (including Obamacare), which require bigger government.”
White warned that profits that normally would be re-invested in the company instead “will be sent into the abyss that is Washington, D.C.”
White added, “The other big impact on Rite-Hite employees, if President Obama is re-elected, is the good chance of losing Rite-Hite insurance and being put into Obamacare…Every opportunity to make up for lost profits to taxes will have to evaluated.”
The faith and community members held a press conference at the Milwaukee County Courthouse today to allege that White’s message violates Wisconsin election law.
The supporters of the complaint include: Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski; school board director Larry Miller; Michael Lauer, director, Wisconsin Jobs Now; Jennifer Epps-Addison, economic justice director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin; minister Greg Lewis; Stephanie Bloomingdale, secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO; Mike Wilder, director, the African-American Roundtable; and Robert Kraig, executive director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
“We demand that Michael White immediately retract his email, apologize to employees and post that apology publicly at the workplace,” Wilder said. “Democracy only functions if workers are free to vote however they choose without fear of reprisal from their boss.”
Wisconsin election law stipulates: "No employer or agent of an employer may distribute to any employee printed matter containing any threat, notice or information that if a particular ticket of a political party or organization or candidate is elected or any referendum question is adopted or rejected, work in the employer's place or establishment will cease, in whole or in part, or the place or establishment will be closed, or the salaries or wages of the employees will be reduced, or other threats intended to influence the political opinions or actions of the employees.”