CNN’s Randi Kaye recently interviewed two employees separately at an Eau Claire company about politics.
Kerri Krumenauer and Dave Soborowicz, who both work for Wiersgalla, a plumbing and heating company, both also voted for Donald Trump in 2016. Krumenauer continues to support the president, but Soborowicz said he would not vote for him again.
“If you don’t like this country, get out. Leave,” said Krumenauer regarding a recent controversial tweet from the president asking a group of congresswomen to “go back” to where they’re from. “That’s all he said.”
Soborowicz offered a different perspective.
“I don’t want to have another four years of embarrassment going on,” he said. “That tweet that everybody’s talking about, I would not define that as a racist tweet but it is a hatred tweet for sure.”
Krumenauer commended Trump’s record on taxes, the border and working with North Korea.
“He takes no crap from anybody, and that’s why I love him,” she said. “He has followed through on promises that he’s kept, that he made to the American people.”
Trump’s penchant for divisiveness has influenced Soborowicz.
“I didn’t know he was gonna act this way, so I’m embarrassed by him,” he said. “He doesn’t act like a president should in my eyes. He in a way I think spreads hatred. It’s like a little kid having a temper tantrum.”
And a thriving economy, by most metrics, isn’t enough to sway Soborowicz.
“I can’t say ... he alone is the reason why everything is booming at this time,” he said. “It didn’t happen as soon as he took office. It was already starting to improve.
“Dairy products would be so much more expensive ... everything would be much more expensive if it wasn’t for the immigrants.”
Krumenauer’s support, however, remains unwavering.
“I’m dug in; I’m behind him 100 percent,” she said. “I am on the Trump train. I’m in the front car with him pulling the whistle.”
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Here’s hoping Krumenauer and Soborowicz get along swimmingly at the local company, but that’s not always the case when coworkers disagree on political issues.
“Politics has long been regarded as a taboo topic on the job, right up there with badmouthing your boss, touting your religion, the amount of your paycheck, family concerns, and health issues,” reads a Scientific American article from last year.
The story cites a study that found almost 50 percent of people said they had seen a political conversation turn into an argument at work. Eighty-seven percent “read political social media posts at work” and 80 percent said they’d discussed politics with professional contacts or colleagues.
Indeed.com, a job site, surveyed 2,000 employees across the U.S. addressing politics in the workplace. Twenty percent of respondents said they want political discussions at work censored more and 25 percent said they believe political beliefs have an effect on their career path or growth within their company.
For employers, the Society for Human Resource Management offers advice on the subject that includes:
• Set the tone from the top by making sure managers respect the views of others.
• Encourage in-person interaction. Technology makes it tempting to communicate by email, which can be more susceptible to heated comments.
• Establish a culture of civility. Employees should be schooled in the company’s anti-harassment policy and feuding employees should be met with separately.
Avoiding misinformation can be important as well. Unsubstantiated online claims are not limited to a single party or political view. The proliferation of online “news” sites makes sifting through the information challenging but not impossible. The truth is out there but can require multiple sources.
And being armed with facts can enhance any conversation. But it still may be advisable to conduct those discussions outside the workplace.
— Liam Marlaire, assistant editor