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Letter: Cummins, refrain from voicing political opinions on social issues

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

This letter responds to the spotlight letter to the editor in the July 4 edition of The Republic written by Sharon Barner, vice president and general counsel of Cummins Inc. In that letter, she states that Cummins commends the Supreme Court for striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and allowing the decision that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional to stand.

I do not believe that a company such as Cummins Inc. should take political sides on such divisive social issues as the Supreme Court’s decision or same-sex marriage/unions.

Cummins Inc. is more than bricks and mortar. Cummins Inc. is a family comprised of individual people such as employees, retirees and shareholders with diverse backgrounds and beliefs. This is good, and diversity is encouraged and is endorsed by most of us.

Because Cummins is a diverse company, the people who comprise Cummins may have conflicting views on the Supreme Court’s decision and the issue of same-sex marriage/unions. Some of us in the Cummins family agree with the Supreme Court’s decision. Some of us do not agree with the Supreme Court’s decision.

To say that Cummins endorses the Supreme Court’s decision may or may not reflect the opinion of the total worldwide population of the Cummins family. I suspect Cummins’ senior management did not take a poll of all the Cummins family.

Regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, as noted, Cummins already offers domestic partner benefits to employees as of 2000. The Supreme Court’s decision did not affect the decision to offer those benefits. By offering those benefits, Cummins tried to overcome what was perceived as an inequality.

To offer those benefits was a business decision not based on a Supreme Court’s decision.

Presumably, that decision was made by senior management, because it affected the operations of the company (affected the bottom line because of the expense incurred). Whether or not one agrees with that business decision, senior management has the right to make business decisions that it believes are in the best interest of the company.

Presumably the Cummins “position” on the Supreme Court’s case is dictated by senior management, but in this case is not a business decision per se that affects the operations of the company but is the opinion of some in senior management positions. The opinion as such does not, in my opinion, affect the bottom line, because no income nor expense is incurred. It’s an opinion, not a decision.

Some say the Supreme Court’s decision is based on equality. Some say the Supreme Court’s decision is not based on equality, but is a morality issue. Each person has to come to their own opinion.

Since Cummins embraces diversity, then it seems to follow that the Cummins family has proponents on both sides of the issue. For Cummins or any other company to embrace either side of a divisive non-operation oriented social issue does an injustice to the diverse beliefs of those world-wide family members who disagree with that position. Consequently, diversity is compromised and not honored which in itself is inequality by disrespecting the beliefs of Cummins’ family members who disagree.

If individuals, such as Ms. Barner or members of senior management, want to express their opinion as private citizens without reference to their company affiliation, that is well and good. Leadership of a company such as Cummins should not take sides of a political social issue which may violate the opinions of the diverse nature of the Cummins family. Cummins should stick to what it does best, the research of, manufacture of and sale of excellent quality products.

Please, Cummins, keep up that good work!

This letter was received July 11 from Ken Chandler of Columbus.

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