8:56 AM | Posted in , ,
The local grocery store in St. Cloud, Coborn's, and their public relations guru, Steve Gottwalt, have been taking a bit of a hit lately after it was revealed they were sending letters to employees about health care reform and unionization urging them to oppose them.

From the St. Cloud Times:

The St. Cloud-based grocery chain in September asked its employees in a letter to contact their congressional representatives to oppose two pieces of legislation — one of them a House version of health care reform legislation.


Steve Gottwalt, spokesman for the company, said someone — not an employee — asked whether the letter was a threat. He said it is not at all a threat and employees are free to take any stance on the legislation without risk of retaliation.

Now an LTE appears in the Times:

In the discussion of the pending health care in Congress, we have heard the vast rumors of death panels to pull the plug on Grandma, increased abortions and others so silly they are not worth the ink to include them.

I recently received a copy of a letter sent to Coborn’s employees stating that if passed, the health care bill would among other things “result in layoffs.” The letter, reported in Sunday’s Times, went on to say that it would be a “destructive government takeover of health care.”

The letter also informed the employee that the pending “unionization bill” was not good for the company, saying it would bring a “loss of benefits.”

We don’t see a head of a company ever looking out for issues that might help the employees, do we?

I find the letter sent out by Coborn’s President Christopher Coborn very troubling by putting pressure on its employees to take political sides on issues that affect them today and in their future.

Putting employees in fear of loosing benefits and even their jobs so that critical legislation is not completed is over the top. I hope that each Coborn’s employee can think on their own what is best for them.

I have three relatively simple questions for Mr. Coborn and his PR flak, Gottwalt:

1. What percentage of your employees do you provide health insurance to?

2. If employees are free to take any stance on the legislation (as Gottwalt claims), what would the purpose be in urging them to oppose the legislation? Also, if someone had to ASK if it was a threat, then doesn't it stand to reason that it has crossed some line?

3. Can you explain, with detail, how this legislation (especially health reform) will negatively impact your business? Is it because you will be required to give your employees health insurance?