People who work for privately owned companies—even very big ones—are often subject to their bosses’ political whims. For employees of a major Midwestern industrial company, that means regularly being preached to by owners known as the Illinois version of the Koch brothers.
If you’ve moved any time in the last few decades, there’s a decent chance you packed up with boxes made by Uline— “the leading distributor of shipping, industrial and packaging materials to businesses throughout North America.” The company, which employs more than 4,000 people and takes in billions in revenue annually, is owned by the husband and wife team Richard and Liz Uihlein. Richard, a self-described “conservative Republican” and advocate of “limited government and free markets,” is an Illinois political power player who has donated millions of dollars to national Tea Party candidates and super PACs.
Liz Uihlein acts as the company’s president, and shares her husband’s politics. In fact, she shares them with all of her employees and customers alike. Uihlein regularly posts “From the President” newsletters (which are archived on the company website) that feature her personal musings on important issues of the day. Not just how much time her grandkids spend on their phones, but also how “Government Regulations Are Costing Us All.” Or a bizarrely fearful screed on helping the homeless:
In their free market absolutism, loathing for government programs, and cheerleading for right wing propaganda, these internal corporate communications from Uline bear a passing resemblance to the internal corporate communications at Menards—another large, privately owned Midwestern firm with thousands of employees and an extremely conservative boss.