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Getting Workers Out To Vote Transcript


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According to the U.S. Census Bureau: In the 2004 Presidential election, there were 32 million people who reported that they were not registered to vote.

The top two reasons for not registering were being uninterested in politics or missing the registration deadline.

Of the 142 million people who reported that they were registered to vote, 16 million did not vote in the 2004 presidential election.

Of these registered nonvoters, reasons ranged from too busy or conflicting work or school schedules (20%); illness, disability or family emergency (15%); not interested or felt their vote would not make a difference (11%); and 10% did not like the candidates or the issues.

This year’s election is a critical time for our country, and many companies are encouraging their staff to get involved in the political process and vote.

* What are the benefits for promoting social responsibility within the workforce, such as getting employees to become more socially aware and informed?

* How are companies and coaches incorporating the value of political awareness and social responsibility into their practices?

Our panel of experts address these questions and more.

Published in: News & Politics

Getting Workers Out To Vote Transcript

  1. 1. Insight on Coaching Getting Workers Out to Vote 2008 Monday October 20th, 2008 11AM PT (2PM ET) Prepared for: Prepared by: Ubiqus Reporting IEC: Insight Educational Consulting
  2. 2. Time Speaker Transcript 00:26 Tom Floyd Hello everyone and welcome to Insight on Coaching. Insight on Coaching explores the many facets, flavors and sides of the emerging professional coaching field. I’m Tom Floyd. I’m the CEO of Insight Educational Consulting and your host for today’s show. This week our topic is Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008. We’ll discuss some of the reasons why people don't vote. We’ll talk about why some companies are encouraging their employees to get more involved in the political process and vote. And we’ll discuss the work coaches are doing with both organizations and employees to encourage higher turnout at the polls as well. With me to explore this topic are five guests and let me give you a quick overview of who we have with us today. Our first guest, Tiffany Adams, is Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Association of Manufacturers and oversees the association’s public affairs department, which executes NAM member and employee involvement programs, as well as the coordination of fly ins, get out the vote strategies and overall grassroots efforts. Tiffany coordinates the organization’s outside the beltway involvement activities for all NAM members. She has oversight for all NAM local in-district events across the country and handles the association’s congressional recognition and accountability program. In addition, Tiffany oversees NAM’s small and medium manufacturer’s department, working to increase the efficacy involvement efforts of this segment of the membership. Welcome to the show, Tiffany. Our second guest, Barry Hermanson, is the Green Party candidate running for the 12th California District congressional set. He is currently an equity investor and a former small business owner of Hermanson’s Employment Service, employing more than 3,000 workers during its 25 years in operation. He served as vice president and was former president of the Merchants of Upper 2 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 2 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  3. 3. Time Speaker Transcript Market and Castro, one of the largest neighborhood merchant associations in San Francisco. Barry is the co-author of San Francisco’s 2003 minimum wage initiative and was also one of the recipients of the San Francisco Bay Guardians local hero award in 2006. Welcome to the show, Barry. 02:25. Barry Thank you. Hermanson 02:26 Tom Floyd Our next guest, Donna Karlin aka The Shadow Coach, is principle of the Better Perspective. She has worked for over 24 years as a coach and trainer with clients in Canada, the U.S. and abroad in the corporate sector, political and federal ministries, government departments and agencies and the medical community. Donna is a recognized author and speaker and lectures internationally. Her work has been written up in Fast Company Magazine, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, as well as in numerous online columns and articles. Currently, Donna writes a weekly column for Fast Company called “Jumping in to the Deep End of Leadership.” Her blog, “Perspectives” is subscribed to by readers in 136 countries. Welcome to the show, Donna. 03:08 Donna Karlin Thanks. 3 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 3 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  4. 4. Time Speaker Transcript 03:10 Tom Floyd Our fourth guest, Michelle Randall, is an executive leadership coach, author and found of The Juncture Company where she works very closely with business and government leaders from around the world. She supports newly elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislative leaders as they transition into office and begin to build a foundation for success. Michelle has also co-authored the book, Winning without Compromising Yourself: Unlocking Personal and Professional Mastery in the Political Arena, and authored Visionary Women Inspiring the World: 12 Paths to Personal Power. Welcome to the show, Michelle. 03:44 Michelle Thanks, Tom. Randall 03:45 Tom Floyd Our fifth guest, Dana Walsh, is a Republican candidate running for the 8th California District congressional seat. Dana was elected to the Republican County Committee in 1994 and served as the past vice chair of communications. She’s the president of the Nob Hill Republican Women Federated and a court appointed special advocate for the San Francisco Juvenile Court. She’s been president of the Greater Clement Street Merchant’s Association and a board member of Women Entrepreneurs and Bay Area Professional Women’s Network. Dana also owned and operated her own San Francisco design firm for 15 years. Welcome to the show, Dana. 04:19 Dana Walsh Thank you. 04:21 Tom Floyd Well, to kick off our show today, I’d like to start off, as we usually do, with some data that our research team put together to set the stage. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the 2004 presidential election, there 4 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 4 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  5. 5. Time Speaker Transcript were 32 million people who reported that they were not registered to vote. The top two reasons for not registering were one, being uninterested in politics and two, missing the registration deadline. Of the 142 million people who reported that they were registered to vote, 60 million did not vote in the 2004 presidential election. Of the registered nonvoters, reasons ranged from too busy or conflicting work or school schedules, which was about 20%, to illness, disability or family emergency, about 15%, not interested or felt their vote would not make a difference, about 11%. And 10% did not like the candidates or the issues. According to a March 7, 2004 article in USA Today, since 1972, when the voting age was dropped to 18, young people have been increasingly disinterested in casting a ballot for president. Turnout hit an all-time low in 2000 when an estimated 42% of voters 18 to 24-years-old went to the polls. That compares with 70% of adults 25 and older who voted that year, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, based at the University of Maryland. Now the study, which was based on surveys, included a profile of what researchers called “Generation dot net” which was respondents ages 15 to 25. They found that the younger generation was indeed politically disengaged. Only 24% of dot net said that they followed government and public affairs very often, compared with 60% of elderly voters, 50% of baby boomers and 37% of Gen Xers. Researchers also found the youngest group were the most distrustful with 70% agreeing with the statement that most people will take advantage of you. Very interesting. 5 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 5 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  6. 6. Time Speaker Transcript 06:33 Tom Floyd According to a June 25, 2008 article by Reuters titled, “ÁFL-CIO Backs Obama, Promises Voter Turnout Drive.” The largest U.S. labor federation endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and promised to launch a huge effort to get union voters to the polls on his behalf in November. Gerald McEntee, chairman of the AFL-CIO political committee and president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said, our program is going to be worker to worker and neighbor to neighbor. “We’re ready to mobilize,” said McEntee, who originally supported Obama’s Democratic presidential rival, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York. The labor federation has budgeted about $54 million for get out the vote operations on behalf of Obama and will focus on mobilizing 13 million union members in 24 priority states. Now, last but not least, I thought this article was pretty amusing. In an interesting November 8, 2006 editorial that ran on CBS News, contributor Lloyd Garver offered some humorous suggestions on how to increase voter turnout on Election Day. Some of his zany suggestions included: Providing cash incentives to get people to vote Making Election Day a national holiday Allowing voters to express their opinions on the election or issues in two minutes via video cameras set up in voter booths Making voting fun by providing free food, music or entertainment at polling stations. I liked that one, personally. And providing special lanes and lines for voters on Election Day. For example, letting them drive in the carpool lane. Now Dana, I’d like to start with you to kick off our segment. How is some of the information that I’ve shared landing on you so far? 6 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 6 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  7. 7. Time Speaker Transcript 08:29 Dana Walsh Well I’ve heard a lot of it before. It sort of surprises me and yet it doesn’t. I would say the most important part about how many are not interested and feel they have no candidate, I always think as we’re talking about employees, employers helping their employees. I think it’s really important for them to first become engaged at a local level because quite frankly, I do believe that that’s where they can see the most difference the most quickly because it’s in their own backyard. Things like community boards and schools boards and things. So I would say part of the solution would be if an employer wanted to get their employee involved, to make them more aware of what’s going on in their own communities. 09:11 Tom Floyd So it could be just employers encouraging them to get involved at the city level or in a local small organization or something like that? 09:19 Dana Walsh And/or providing them information about the candidates or the propositions in a nonpartisan way so they can be made aware of what’s going on in their own backyard. 09:30 Tom Floyd It’s interesting that you say that because that’s actually what it took for me to get more involved. 09:36 Dana Walsh Great. 09:36 Tom Floyd I am involved locally as a volunteer. I did start very small, just working with a small organization here. I know that one of the things that I felt is I was intimidated at first. I thought “I don't have a lot of knowledge here. I’m going to be around all these people who know way more than I do.” Does that come up as a fear for other people as well? 7 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 7 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  8. 8. Time Speaker Transcript 09:55 Dana Walsh I’m sure it does. What I think is important is for anyone who feels that way to realize that everybody starts somewhere and you can become quite quickly and you can get up to speed very quickly as well. Again, especially when you start at a local issue. It’s like anything else. As your coaching people know, you start with what you know and what you’re interested in and build from there. 10:17 Tom Floyd Exactly. The U.S. Census Bureau mentions that being uninterested in politics as one of the main reasons that people don't vote. So from a campaign perspective, are there strategies that you put in place to address this? I mean do you try to focus on getting more people interested in voting, for example? 10:37 Dana Walsh My challenge here in San Francisco is that I am a Republican in a very, very Democratic area. So we’ve been trying to do that sort of outreach to decline to states. And primarily in this day and age we try to do it by making people aware of our website. So in that way we try to engage them and to go to events that a Republican isn't really expected to go to. So again, I’ve been making an effort to go to groups that aren’t used to asking Republicans to become involved in. So I’ve found that to be very helpful. They don't necessarily agree with me but I’ve been amazed at how many are open to looking at a different perspective and I’ve been very pleased with that. 11:21 Tom Floyd It sounds like a lot of it would be about the conversation too. I mean just showing up for the conversation and engaging people alone probably encourages more dialogue and involvement as well. 8 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 8 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  9. 9. Time Speaker Transcript 11:32 Dana Walsh Definitely. This election is my first election. I shouldn’t say it’s my first election, but my first candidacy for Congress. But we have had situations where I have sent in a questionnaire and they have not asked me to speak. It’s not very common, but very often I’ll go to someplace and they’ll say, “you know we’re not use to having a Republican here” and they have been very warm and gracious. Like I said, I very much appreciated that and have been amazed at how many questions are asked of me. And again, it just gives me a really good opportunity to reach people that are considered open to my message. I think that’s been very good in this campaign here in San Francisco. 12:13 Tom Floyd Great. Barry, what would you add to the conversation so far? For example, how do you get people who aren’t interested in politics to vote and get more involved? 9 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 9 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  10. 10. Time Speaker Transcript 12:24 Barry That’s a really tough question. Hermanson First of all, I want to compliment Dana for showing up at those events. I really do believe that democracy, you know we’re better served when there actually is differing ideas that are being presented. I’m in a much different position. The Bay Area here is very heavily Democratic in its voting patterns and I’m a Green. Lots of the things that I do say the folks in the room will agree with, but they’re not used to voting outside of the Republican and Democratic tickets. So Green Party candidates tend not to fare very well, even though many of the ideas that we’re saying resonate well with voters. I wanted to bring up one thing; I was doing some work on preparing some walk lists last night. With a small campaign you really can't concentrate a lot on the people that do not vote because then you never get a message out to the people who actually do vote. You’ve highlighted today that we have a lot of people in this country that don't even bother to register to vote. But I want to add to that, in my work last night we have 445,000 people that registered to vote on the rolls in San Francisco. Of that amount, there were 117,000 people that did not bother to vote in the last three elections; in our June primary, in the February presidential primary and last November. With small resources there’s no way that I can spend time contacting these people because the amount of time to do that, the amount of expense to do that and then trying to find a way of actually convincing these people, it’s very, very difficult. I’m looking forward to hearing other comments on today’s show as to what might be a good strategy to be reaching out to these folks and how we can really be doing that on a community wide basis. I think voting should be something that everyone does. It’s participating in our democracy. And when people don't vote, they really do not have a say in how our government is run. And maybe it’s because people are so dispirited. They just figure that their voice isn't valued. 10 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 10 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  11. 11. Time Speaker Transcript 15:08 Tom Floyd So a lot of things I want to come back to there. In general I think it’ll definitely be interesting to see what happens with this year’s election because of the economy and so many other things that going on, if that impacts the amount of people that turn out at the polls at all. I have to admit, I was surprised when I read the statistic about the registration deadlines playing such a large role as well. Are there any steps campaigns can take to ensure higher registration rates? For example I saw that some states allow same day voter registration. I even saw an interesting article that talked about online registration possibly being used to help increase turnout. 15:53 Barry I agree. Same day registration would be good. Hermanson In the state of Oregon they do voting by mail. So it’s very similar to what we have here in California with absentee ballots. An increasing number of people are mailing in ballots instead of taking the time to actually show up at the polls on Election Day. There are, of course, many people that very much enjoy the process of actually going to the polls and casting their votes. But anything we can do to make it easier for people, I really would take a very, very serious look at that. 11 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 11 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  12. 12. Time Speaker Transcript 16:34 Dana Walsh Could I make a statement? I have a little bit different view than Barry. And Barry, thank you for your kind words earlier. I think that we’ve done very, very much to allow participation. I’m not at all happy with the idea of same day registration because part of the process is being sure that the people who register are in the location they say or the person they say. There is a certain amount of important information that has to be vetted to vote. Because I think the vote is an extremely important thing. I would question whether someone who doesn’t even bother to register until the day of the vote have really taken the time to look into the issues. I think that’s extremely important because it’s not just how many people vote but who votes and how informed they are. Again, we were talking about what employers could do. I think it’s very important that employers would help their employees become more aware and more informed, not just to get them out to the polls that day. I think it’s actually a little disconcerting to think that they might take enough control that they would give their employees an idea of how to vote because that could be somewhat intimidating. I think the systems in place were put that way for a reason. I’m not saying there couldn’t be changes of some way or another. But I think the real key of what employers could do is what we’re talking today is not to make it easier to vote, but just to make their people aware of what the process is. And there’s registration all day every day at the Department of Elections and a lot of it can be done by mail. So I think there’s a very good process in place and it shouldn’t be jettisoned just for convenience. 18:14 Tom Floyd Got it. 12 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 12 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  13. 13. Time Speaker Transcript 18:15 Tiffany Adams Well I think that there’s a combination there because employers are not only there to provide information on the election so that employees can make a sound decision, but it is to help them to understand how easy it is to register. There are all kinds of ways to register and get to the polls either on or before Election Day. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with employers providing that information to their employees along with a hearty understanding of, hey, make sure you know the issues as well. They certainly aren’t going to tell them how to vote for anyone. That’s completely up to the individual. But providing this type of information is a must. And I’d like to see more and more employers do it in this election and in elections to come. 18:58 Tom Floyd Tiffany, can you speak to us about the role that the National Association of Manufacturers typically plays in elections? 13 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 13 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  14. 14. Time Speaker Transcript 19:03 Tiffany Adams Absolutely. Actually for years the NAM has always offered voter education information. But since 1996, we have really taken a comprehensive approach to not only voter registration but to voter education. The NAM provides an overview of voter registration deadlines and opportunities in all 50 states. We provide that to our membership so that they don't have to go out and dig it up. We give them that information straight away. We have a website,, get out the vote, that lists all of the information for the 50 states. It lists how you can register, when you much register. Early voting, as you know, more than 20 states offer early voting now where folks can actually go to designated polling stations and vote onsite before the election. There is also absentee balloting. So we provide this information along with easy ways and lawful ways that our employers can put together voter registration drives for their employees. We want to make sure that everyone is a part of this process and that they’re informed voters. So we want to provide that information to the manufacturing community and make sure that manufacturing is heard at the polls. 20:21 Tom Floyd Donna, I want to loop you in the conversation. I want to come back to the USA Today article. That article discussed the role that age plays in getting people to vote. My question is, in your experience, what role does age or generation play in getting people to poll? Are there some generations, like baby boomers for example, who in your experience are more inclined to vote than others? 14 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 14 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  15. 15. Time Speaker Transcript 20:48 Donna Karlin I believe that the baby boomers really do get out there and vote. Actually I’ve seen more and more drives and baby boomers working with the younger generation to engage them into what’s going on, especially in the workplace. To tie it into leadership for a minute, a lot of the boomers who I work with in positions of leadership turn around and say if you want to evolve into your leadership and really be a strong voice within the organization, are you taking as much responsibility for your life and getting out there to vote. And what they’re doing is they’re challenging, especially the younger generation, to find out what they need to find out so it has meaning to them, or some kind of personal connection. They know what the platforms are, the policies, et cetera, and they encourage them to show their leadership by taking control of their life and voting in the person who will have a direct impact on their work life and personal life. So I’m watching that message happen more and more as time goes on. And I’m fascinated to see those conversations happen because it is about taking control of your life and your leadership in a personal and professional way. 22:03 Tom Floyd Do you think that that’s necessarily something that’s on the mind of somebody in the millennial generation though? I mean, is really taking control of their life and taking that stance something that is top of mind for them? 22:18 Donna Karlin I’m so glad you asked that question because I’m interviewing a lot of people in the boomers and the millennial generation for a book that I’m writing on leadership. What’s interesting is that the millennial generation really wants to have more control over their lives than the boomers have taken when it comes to work hours, work life balance, et cetera. 22:39 Tom Floyd True. 15 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 15 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  16. 16. Time Speaker Transcript 22:40 Donna Karlin And one of the things they’re doing is they’re getting involved in causes. That is a great connection to make when it comes to encouraging them to find out what the platform and policies are of the people running so that they could vote and be a part of that. 22:57 Tom Floyd And it’s funny that you bring that up too. I thought it was interesting with Obama who used Facebook and other web technologies to really mobilize that group. I found that really interesting. But from my own experience volunteering, the group I’m involved in is the Human Rights Campaign and I’m on the Board of Governors for them. And it’s interesting for a lot of our events, I have found you can get the millennial generation to show up and lobby, for example, and show up to support events and things like that. What I’ve noticed is there’s not as much interest in driving a program, or driving a campaign or things like that. It’s been kind of like, “okay, if you tell me to show up and tell me exactly what I need to do,” they’re there. But in terms of defining of a program or running it long term, there’s not as much interest there. Out of curiosity, have you seen anything like that as well? 16 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 16 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  17. 17. Time Speaker Transcript 23:53 Donna Karlin I used to see more of it. I’m seeing less of it now and I’m very happy to say that. When people do get engaged, they really jump in with both feet. It’s very little peripheral engagement. And I think people are becoming more vocal about what they want. As the new generation is coming into positions of leadership, they speak their minds and that’s really good. So it’s a matter of translating that to, you want to speak your mind, how are you going to do it through your representative and the person who’s in political power who could make a difference for you. And I think that that is the message that has to come out of organizations, is to turn around and say, it has a direct impact on you. Are you taking the time to find out what that might be and are you going to do your thing and vote to make a difference for yourself and the global environment that you live in? 24:48 Tom Floyd Understood. Michelle, I would like to go ahead and loop you in on the conversation. The first part of my question, just anything in general that you’d add so far and the second part of that is you have a wealth of experience in coaching political leaders over the years and have been involved in helping several politicians in their run for office. Now Lloyd Garver’s humorous suggestions on CBS News were definitely a little zany, but just out of curiosity do you think, from your experience, that any of his funny suggestions would work? For example, in terms of making Election Day a national holiday, or providing entertainment or food at polling stations and things like that to increase turnout? 25:27 Michelle Well, I’ll start with the second part of your question, which was the zany ideas. Randall And the first thing is it seems zany to me voting on a national holiday, but in Germany all voting takes place on a Sunday. 25:44 Tom Floyd Interesting. 17 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 17 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  18. 18. Time Speaker Transcript 25:44 Michelle Yes, there’s not a competition for it. Randall In fact they can't really conceive of how we manage to vote at all in the middle of a work week. But the other thing too is I was just riding with a friend of mine who lives in London, and on his ballot, you know, he was talking about what an effort it is to vote in California because we also basically legislate from the voting booth. So it’s also very challenging in some ways. I like the process, but it may be a bit more of a complex process than need be. That could be turning people off. And finally, on that part, I was an RA in college and I found that free food always helped everything. 26:32 Tom Floyd Free food and booze seems to play a role in that too. 18 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 18 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  19. 19. Time Speaker Transcript 26:36 Michelle There you go. And imagine the, “well I didn't know I was voting for that person.” Randall What I want to come back to is when you originally were asking this question I tried to think how is it a benefit for companies to really have their employees be involved in voting. Because we’ve heard that it really isn't that hard to register. And it really isn't that hard to vote. So it’s really about engendering more of a desire to be out there. I mean it’s great for the company because people are out in their communities, you know from a marketing perspective. They’re understanding what people are caring about. They’re outside of their bubble. But where I think where people turn off from voting is that we don't necessarily have a healthy way of communicating in the presence of deep disagreement. We don't have a lot of role models who are respective to agreement. It’s sort of, quite honestly at this point, a whack a mole thing. Somebody sticks their head up to get whacked over their head, just personal attacks, personal investigation, and things like that. So I think that it would be very, very useful for organizations to be able to teach the people who work there to communicate with each other in the presence of this deep disagreement. One thing that they could use is the hot button of politics. 28:14 Tom Floyd Just to summarize before we go to break, from an organization’s perspective it’s providing more of a role model, more understanding about the process, more voice and things like that are some of the benefits in terms of encouraging folks to vote. 28:27 Michelle Right. It’s actually about teaching communication. Randall 28:31 Tom Floyd I’m hearing the music for our first commercial break, so let's go ahead and go on pause. Stay tuned everyone, more Insight on Coaching when we return. 31:13 Tom Floyd Hello everyone and welcome back to Insight on Coaching. I’m Tom Floyd. 19 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 19 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  20. 20. Time Speaker Transcript Today the topic is Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008. With me are Tiffany Adams, vice president of public affairs of the National Association of Manufacturers; Barry Hermanson, Green Party candidate running for the 12th California District congressional seat and former owner of Hermanson’s Employment Service; Donna Karlin, president of A Better Perspective and author of Fast Company’s weekly column, “Jumping into the Deep End of Leadership” and co- author of the best-selling book, 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life; Michelle Randall, president of The Juncture Company and co-author of Winning Without Compromising Yourself: Unlocking Personal and Professional Mastery in the Political Arena; and Dana Walsh, Republican candidate running for the 8th California District congressional seat and the president of Nob Hill Republican Women Federated. Well in this segment of the show, I’d like to discuss best practices employers can keep in mind for motivating employees to work. I’d like to discuss how to handle various political issues that can come up in the workplace during election time. And I’d also like to talk about when it is and isn't appropriate to discuss politics in the workplace. Some more data to set the stage. A November, 2006 article by revealed that a majority of states now mandate that companies provide time for employees to cast their ballots. While there are no federal laws requiring companies to give time off from work to vote, a majority of states do have rules designed to ensure employees can make it to the polls on Election Day. Laws vary by state, but if polls are not open two or three hours outside employee’s regular shifts, employers are generally required to provide them with reasonable time off to vote. Lunch and other rest periods may not be included as part of the time off for voting. The state laws are designed to ensure employees are not disciplined or retaliated against for taking time off to vote. Many states also require that companies pay employees for time that they are absent while voting. Most states allow employers to specify the time of day employees may take off to vote. Generally employers may require 20 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 20 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  21. 21. Time Speaker Transcript employees request time off in advance of Election Day. In a September 8, 2008 article from this year on, author Mark Schoeff Jr., points out that despite declining membership, unions continue to punch above their weight politically by getting their people to the polls. Now corporate America is fighting back. A Washington advocacy group, The Business Industry Political Action Committee, is attempting to reach millions of potential voters through their employers. Several labor organizations recently filed federal election commission complaint charging that a Wal-Mart retailer told managers and supervisors to oppose Democrats, including presidential nominee Barack Obama because they support a bill that would make it easier to form unions. Last piece of data before we jump into the conversation. According to Fischer and Phillips, LLP, in a list of top eight election years dos and don’ts for employers based on the professional experience of nationally recognized labor and employment law experts: Do evaluate motives Do remain neutral and comply with state laws Do ensure policies are objectively developed and enforced Do monitor political discussion Don't push for the goal agendas Don't criticize, joke or jab Don't solicit funds And last but not least, don't gloat. 34:36 Tom Floyd Now, Tiffany, I’d like to start with you to kick us off in this segment. A general question first. From your experience, are more organizations encouraging their employees to become involved in the political process and vote? 21 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 21 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  22. 22. Time Speaker Transcript 34:48 Tiffany Adams Absolutely, without a doubt. Here at the NAM we spend an awful lot of time doing two things. We want to make sure that our employers feel comfortable enough and have the tools to reach out directly to their employees to A, help get them registered to vote and encourage them to get to the polls. And then B, that they make an informed vote. I was really glad to hear you mention the Business Industry Political Action Committee, because the NAM is a founding member of that organization and we’ve worked with them for years on voter registration and voter education. Their prosperity project has provided the tools to help our member companies and our member employees, the companies’ employees to be better informed on manufacturing issues. I think these are two issues here. You have the issue of getting folks registered to vote and to the polls, and then you have the issues of having folks make an informed vote. When you reading off your dos and don't lists, I said, boy there are two really big things on there that he didn't say. And that was, don't endorse a candidate when you are working in conjunction with a voter registration drive. You did mention don't tell employees whom to cast their vote for. That’s important. But it’s really a big picture item and it is two-fold. It’s voter registration and getting out to the polls and again, educated votes, knowing how a candidate stands on issues most important to you, your company and your family. 36:16 Tom Floyd Have you heard of any instances where companies are providing incentives to employees for getting more involved, let's say locally for example? 36:23 Tiffany Adams I have not. And it’s not something that we encourage here at the NAM. We want folks to feel compelled that this is their responsibility and they should know who they’re voting into office. So we try to give them the tools to understand that information. 36:36 Tom Floyd In general, what are some best practices that employers should keep in mind when they’re engaging employees during election time? 22 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 22 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  23. 23. Time Speaker Transcript 36:43 Tiffany Adams I think you’ve got to stay completely nonpartisan. That’s number one. If you are on a voter registration drive, there should be no information about candidates. If it’s just about voter registration, that’s what it should be about; registering to vote and then, of course, go to the polls on Election Day. If it’s a voter education drive, then I encourage all of our member companies, all of our manufacturing companies to provide what we call side by sides, or congressional accountability. The NAM maintains a congressional voting record for each and every member of the Congress, House and Senate over the course of a two-year Congress so that you can see and our employees can see and our member companies can see exactly how a member votes on manufacturing issues. We’ve also sent out a survey to all of the candidates that they can answer and we post it word for word. We encourage our member companies and employees to go to our website and look at that information and see how this candidate looks at issues that are most important to the manufacturing sector. Make an informed vote. We don't tell them who to vote for, but we give them all of the information that we have right there. 37:53 Barry That’s really funny. Hermanson 37:55 Tiffany Adams That’s really clear. The NAM as an organization doesn’t even endorse. We certainly wouldn’t wrap that with a voter registration campaign. 38:02 Barry No, but anybody looking at your literature could tell how you would like people to Hermanson vote. 38:08 Tiffany Adams I can't tell that. 23 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 23 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  24. 24. Time Speaker Transcript 38:09 Barry Side by side comparisons and this person is really good and this person’s bad. Hermanson Whoa, whoa, whoa, I want to correct you there. 38:15 Tiffany Adams This is not a person that is good or bad, this is a voting record. I think we need to make that very, very clear. I think someone mentioned earlier, you know we talk about vilifying candidates and people are bad and bopping the on the head. This is not about individuals; this is about votes. So let's make sure we keep that clear. 38:35 Dana Walsh Could I put in a couple of cents here? 38:38 Tom Floyd Sure, definitely. 38:39 Dana Walsh I just thought Tiffany’s remarks were excellent. That has been my experience in organizations like hers. I’ve seen the side by sides of Ipac, I believe it’s called, and they basically just say here’s how this person has voted, here’s how the other candidate has voted. I cannot imagine how that would be construed as an endorsement, which she said they don't do. And I think it’s very important too to remember that for every Wal-Mart story where someone has said, it probably is anecdotal, that they were told to vote Republican, certainly as you were talking about, this incredible union drive, certainly they’re not telling their union members to vote Republican as a rule. So I would say, like every other part of politics, there are two sides. But Tiffany’s remarks about it being side by side comparisons of facts versus opinions and endorsements I think is just a wonderful service that they offer. 24 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 24 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  25. 25. Time Speaker Transcript What I’d like to see is actually a wider discussion of issues. We end up in our society 39:39 Barry with a lot of special interests, whether it is labor or whether it’s manufacturing or Hermanson whether it’s retail or whatever. And so it is important to list side by side how a particular candidate has voted or what their positions are related to that specific industry. But I think where we lose in that kind of an emphasis is to say where does this particular candidate place themselves in terms of the wider community and the wider group of issues that will ultimately affect. So for instance, in manufacturing, you may not talk about somebody’s environmental record, which ultimately that’s going to have a very big impact on the larger community. I’d like to see ways that we can begin to talk about that within our communities, within our merchant associations. I used to do that when I was president of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro. So I would pick issues that were on the ballot that would maybe have some impact on the merchant community. And I would try to fairly present both sides of the issue within our newsletter and then actually have some discussion during meetings. And if it was a very important issue to the community, we would then take a vote on an issue. We never took a vote on candidates, but we would take a vote on issues that were on the ballot. If, again, it was of something of very significant importance to our community. 41:24 Tom Floyd So if we’re talking about a specific issue, regardless that it’s the environment or something else, what impact does a company taking a stance on a political issue have on motivating its employees to vote? An example that I’ll use, here in California this past year PG&E took a stance and pledge $250,000 toward the No on 8 campaign advocating for the right for same sex couples to marry in California. Regardless of what the issue is, is it becoming more common for companies to do that? And what type of impact does that have on their employees to vote or not vote? 25 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 25 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  26. 26. Time Speaker Transcript 42:07 Donna Karlin I’d like to throw my two cents in. 42:09. Tom Floyd Sure. 42:10 Donna Karlin I think it’s detrimental to getting people out to vote. Because if they’re going to vote against what their organization is supporting, then they have this fear of being earmarked as somebody who will not be promoted into leadership, et cetera, and will be discounted for specific projects, et cetera, because of their political affiliation or slant. So I think it’s very detrimental and I think it doesn’t ensure that people give their best. It’s being filtered through certain fears and holding back because of their organization’s position. I’d agree with you and I’d actually argue against that trend. 42:51 Tiffany Adams I don't see that amongst manufacturing companies that there is a trend toward taking that kind of a staunch stand. I mean we really do look at it as I think employees do value what they hear from their employers, and they do want to be on the same page as they’re all working toward the common good of their company. But I have not heard where there have been really staunch and heavy stances in that regard. And I think the point was made quite clearly, it’s a bit dangerous if that becomes every singe role. I think we’ve really got to be careful on what it is we’re encouraging folks to be involved in and why we’re encouraging them. 26 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 26 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  27. 27. Time Speaker Transcript 43:38 Tom Floyd And that’s what I’ve heard as well, regardless of what the issue is. It seems like, in general, for me my experience has been there’s been a hesitancy by a lot of companies to really want to take a stance on any issue regardless of what the issue is. I’m starting to hear the music for our next commercial break, so let's go ahead and go on pause. Stay tuned everyone. More Insight on Coaching and Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 when we return. Welcome back to Insight on Coaching. I’m Tom Floyd. 46:37 Tom Floyd Today the topic is Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008. With me are Tiffany Adams, Barry Hermanson, Donna Karlin, Michelle Randall and Dana Walsh. On this segment of the show I’d like to discuss how coaches can help during election time. I’d like to just jump right into the conversation. Michelle, I’d like to kick us off with you in this segment. In a previous show we discussed the role that some coaches are playing in developing and growing political leaders. Are there coaches who specialize in coaching employers on how to handle political issues like motivating employees to vote? Michelle, are you there? 47:18 Michelle Yes. Randall 47:20 Tom Floyd You’re scaring me! 47:21 Michelle No, I’m here. I was waiting for the question. I missed it. Randall 27 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 27 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  28. 28. Time Speaker Transcript 47:26 Tom Floyd My question is that we’ve talked about the fact that there’s coaches who specialize in developing and growing political leaders. Are there coaches who specialize in coaching employers on how to handle political issues like motivating employees to vote? 47:41 Michelle I don't know. Donna, do you know? Randall 47:44 Donna Karlin Well, because I work on both sides of the coin, a lot of my corporate clients like me to do some work in that arena within the corporate climate to empower their staff to get out there and take responsibility, be leaders personally as well as professionally in knowing what your candidate’s views are, et cetera. So I do a little bit of that, but I also work with my clients to make sure that they don't impose their opinions or their slants on their staff and to make it very clear that it should be a personal choice. So let me give you an example. One of the things I wanted to cover on the show was 48:23 Tom Floyd how to have the political conversation in the workplace and things like that. So can either one of you talk to us about how a coach could help in a situation, for example, where many employees may openly be advocating for certain candidates in the office? The first part of that is really, is that display of affiliation appropriate in the office? The second part is, how could a coach help in that situation? 28 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 28 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  29. 29. Time Speaker Transcript 48:58 Michelle I think that it’s probably a corporate governance issue. Randall It’s a corporate culture decision whether or not people can display what their beliefs are, what their voting is. I personally think it would be very useful. And it may be an unpopular viewpoint, but I think it’s useful because that’s how you actually build community is being authentic to who you are. As long as it’s done in a way that is respectful of other people having different opinions. And I go back to being able to respectfully disagree on something as deep as the values that drive political choices. It makes it a lot easier to disagree when you’re talking about a product rollout or something along those lines. So I think that for an authentic workplace it has to be matched with healthy communication and from an active standpoint from the organization. So if you’re going to have one, you need to have it in concert with the other. 50:08 Tom Floyd Donna, anything that you would add? 29 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 29 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  30. 30. Time Speaker Transcript Well, I agree to a great extent because a lot of what I’m observing when I’m coaching 50:10 Donna Karlin my clients in their crazy world is how do they generate the dialogue to create something new that the two people who might be debating the politics of today from different sides of the table, so to speak, turn around and have this generative dialogue to see not only how do they process this, what is in it for them, personal commitment, but just having that conversation shows people in their environment, people around them that you can be passionate and still work for an organization without any worry about being censured for it in any way, shape or form, blatant or otherwise. It also shows that you’re allowed to live in alignment with your passions. And other people around them could turn around and say, “you know what, I want to know more about this party, that party, et cetera, and their platforms just by listening to the dialogue.” I think it’s healthy. I think it’s contagious in its enthusiasm and I would love to see more it. 51:18 Dana Walsh Tom, could I mention something? 51:19 Tom Floyd Sure. 51:20 Dana Walsh Actually a part of my business, I’m a certified interior designer, but I have a design coach business, so I’m pretty familiar with coaching concepts. 51:28 Tom Floyd Oh fantastic. 30 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 30 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  31. 31. Time Speaker Transcript 51:29 Dana Walsh I don't think it’s productive. Again, I’m speaking from someone who lives in San Francisco, California where certainly a Republican point of view would really put you at a disadvantage in many ways. So I think having that dialogue in the office almost isn't appropriate. But I do think what would be, and if far more in the vein of coaching, is that instead of telling the certainly how to vote, which I don't think anybody really does that, but to talk about the process of voting. And I love Tiffany’s idea of information about how to register and all that sort of process information and the means of voting and finding out the facts about things. I think that’s very, very instructive and much more in the vein of coaching. It’s helping them take power to do it themselves. And I’d like to say one other thing about all of these benefits of voting and why we should give them a day off and all this. I think we’ve lost track in this country of what an incredible right it is to vote and what a responsibility it is. And I don't think we should be giving people days off and paid time to do something that they should embrace and that many states have made very easy to do in terms of getting registered. I feel very strongly that people have to understand it’s a right that wars have been fought over. I think they should feel that more clearly and maybe that’s what a company could do is just convey to the people how important their vote is and how hard fought it was and it’s a responsibility of them as citizens of this country. 53:06 Tom Floyd I am clapping on this end. You can't hear me, but I swear I’m clapping. Tiffany, anything that you would add? 31 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 31 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript
  32. 32. Time Speaker Transcript 53:12 Tiffany Adams I think this has been a most useful show today because it does remind folks that we all need to not only be registered but be educated voters. And everyone should have a say in how a voter is educated. Everyone can be helpful and it doesn’t have to be partisan. So I wish everyone luck on Election Day and I hope that we get more and more of our voters to the polls. 53:36 Tom Floyd So thank all of you for joining us today. The main lesson I’m taking in terms of how employers can really help is enabling the registration and voting process and reminding everybody that this is a pretty spectacular right that we have, and to get out there and vote. A huge thank you, as always, to all of our listeners. For more information about our show, you can look us up on the Voice of America Business Channel. You can visit our website at . You can always feel free to email me as well at Don't forget, you can also download the podcast version of this show through Apple iTunes. Just open up iTunes, go to the iTunes store, click podcasts on the left side of the screen and enter Insight on Coaching in the search field. Thanks again, everyone. Have a great week. 32 | Confidential October 23, 2008 Page 32 Getting Workers Out to Vote in 2008 Transcript