ALEC and the Minimum Wage

ALEC and the Minimum Wage
By Seth Sandronsky

The American Legislative Exchange Council is against raising the
minimum hourly wage. We turn to Missouri’s statehouse. Lawmakers there
passed bills barring every past and future law to hike the minimum
wage recently.

“By enacting legislation today to prohibit all past and future local
minimum wage laws in Missouri, the Missouri state legislature dealt a
blow to democracy and workers in the state,” said Christine Owens,
executive director at the National Employment Law Project.
“Legislators have stripped Missouri communities of their long-standing
rights and taken away all hope for cities like St. Louis of addressing
low wages that deny people the opportunity to support themselves
through work.”

Missouri’s anti-minimum wage legislation mirrors a bill that Iowa
state lawmakers passed. In Iowa, that bill reverses local minimum wage
hikes that counties approved, while prohibiting cities and counties
from changing the standards for wages and benefits.

What is going on, and why? According to the NELP, state legislatures
are responding to popular sentiments to increase minimum wage rates.
Over 40 cities and counties have enacted increased minimum wages.
However, 24 states have approved laws to roll back these minimum wage
increases. Continue reading

Kentucky Local Right to Work Effort is a new front

In Warren County, Ky., a fiscal court has given preliminary approval to a local “right to work” for less ordinance. The measure is worded as to prevent any worker covered by the National Labor Relations Act from being required to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. Since it is already illegal in the United States to require workers to join unions, the real focus of the measure is to weaken workers in negotiations with employers for decent wages and benefits. Instead of passing illegal ordinances that are a big waste of time and resources for the county, those efforts should be spent in other ways like focusing on raising wages for Warren County residents.

If you’re in Kentucky, call the fiscal court today and tell them you oppose the right to work ordinance: 1-855-721-3304. 

Here are seven specific ways that this measure would hurt workers in Warren County, most of which would apply to workers in other Kentucky locales (and elsewhere) if the process were repeated elsewhere: Continue reading

EPI: Plutocratic attacks on wages, workers and unions all part of a concerted corporate effort

by  Meteor Blades

attribution: Economic Policy Institute

The 2010 congressional victory of the Republican right has mostly meant gridlock inD.C. But the tea-party wave that year also gave Republicans monopoly control in 11 states, and there’s been plenty of action in those, much of it directed at undermining workers’ rights and workers’ compensation, including their pensions. Nothing is more harmful to workers than when plutocrats and their legislative marionettes are feeling their oats and turning greed into law. As Gordon Lafer, an associate professor at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center, puts it in the Economic Policy Institute’s new 75-page briefing paper—The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards, 2011-2012:

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Protestors Ready to Meet ALEC at 40th Anniversary Summit in Chicago, August 7-9

alec-exposed-600x400The American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as “ALEC,” will gather for its 40th Anniversary meeting in Chicago on August 7-9. ALEC was founded in Illinois in 1973. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) launched the ALECexposed.org project in July 2011, and since then ALEC has been the focus of increased public scrutiny over its role in promoting controversial legislation, including “Stand Your Ground” gun laws and restrictive Voter ID laws that make it harder for Americans to vote.

According to ALEC, up to 2,000 state legislators and lobbyists are expected to be meeting behind closed doors inside the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago. Although ALEC’s leaders have told the press its meetings are open to the public, reporters have been blocked from meetings where corporations and politicians vote as equals, bounced from other meetings, denied credentials, and even threatened with arrest. Continue reading

Propelled By ALEC, ‘Right-to-Work’ Assault on Unions Reaches Pennsylvania

by Bruce Vail

Pennsylvania labor is primed for the fight: An April 11, 2011 Teamsters rally against previous right-to-work legislation drew some 400 protestors to the state Capitol.   (The Rick Smith Show / Flickr / Creative Commons)

Pennsylvania labor is primed for the fight: An April 11, 2011 Teamsters rally against previous right-to-work legislation drew some 400 protestors to the state Capitol. (The Rick Smith Show / Flickr / Creative Commons)

Backed by powerful national business interests, conservative legislators in Pennsylvania announced last week a new push to bring so-called “right-to-work” laws to the Keystone state. State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe said January 22 that he and five other Republican legislators would introduce a package of bills aimed at crippling the ability of labor unions to collect dues from members.

Pennsylvania labor leaders say the package is part of a broad assault on labor that began in 2010 when the GOP won control of the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature. Continue reading

FreedomWorks Putting Its War Chest to Work for ALEC’s Anti-Union Agenda in the States

by Brendan Fischer

alec-exposed-prw-sidebarThe Tea Party-affiliated group FreedomWorks — the right-wing organization that helps connect “Tea Party” groups with talking points, rallies, and more — is gearing up to direct its sizeable war chest towards advancing anti-union initiatives in the states, supporting an agenda set by groups like David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity and the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This strongly suggests that the battle for the future of private and public sector unions in America is beginning a new phase of combat.

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Selling Snake Oil to the States

Study: ALEC’s Advice to States on Jobs Is Actually a Recipe for Stagnation and Wage Suppression

 Washington, DC, November 28, 2012–A new study finds that state tax and regulatory policies recommended by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) fail to promote stronger job creation or income growth, and actually predict a worse performance.

Since ALEC first published its annual Rich States, Poor States study with its Economic Outlook Ranking in 2007, states that were rated better have actually done worse economically.

Those are the key findings of “Selling Snake Oil to the States”, a study published today by Good Jobs First and the Iowa Policy Project and freely available online at  http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/snakeoiltothestates . It was released at a press conference the same week ALEC holds its annual fall meeting in Washington, DC. Continue reading

Won’t Back Down” Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal

by Mary Bottari and Sara Jerving

Well-funded advocates of privatizing the nation’s education system are employing a new strategy this fall to enlist support for the cause. The emotionally engaging Hollywood film “Won’t Back Down” — set for release September 28 — portrays so-called “Parent Trigger” laws as an effective mechanism for transforming underperforming public schools. But the film’s distortion of the facts prompts a closer examination of its funders and backers and a closer look at those promoting Parent Trigger as a cure for what ails the American education system.

While Parent Trigger was first promoted by a small charter school operator in California, it was taken up and launched into hyperdrive by two controversial right-wing organizations: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heartland Institute.

ALEC brings together major American corporations and right-wing legislators to craft and vote on “model” bills behind closed doors. These bills include extreme gun laws, like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law implicated in the Trayvon Martin shooting, union-busting legislation, Arizona style anti-immigrant legislation and voter suppression laws that have sparked lawsuits across the nation. The organization’s agenda is so extreme that in the last few months 40 major U.S. companies, including Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Kraft, and General Motors, have severed ties with ALEC.

Similarly, the Heartland Institute recently suffered an exodus of corporate sponsors after it launched a billboard comparing those who believe in the science behind global warming to the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.

As the movie’s stars take to the airwaves this week to promote the film, it is unlikely they will discuss the agenda of the film’s billionaire backers or the right-wing politicians and for-profit firms who developed the Parent Trigger idea, the purpose of which is to promote the transformation of the American public school system into a for-profit enterprise. We provide a primer below.

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Wal-Mart’s Honest Graft

by Peter Dreier & Donald Cohen

Last month Wal-Mart became the latest company to drop its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council in response to public outrage over ALEC’s aggressive support for “Stand Your Ground” laws (which are implicated in the death of Trayvon Martin, among others). Wal-Mart won some kudos for leaving ALEC, but its shrewd move was nothing more than an attempt to divert attention from the retail giant’s current troubles and its multimillion dollar effort to burnish its image, peddle its influence, and increase its market share.

The uproar over the Wal-Mart bribery scandal in Mexico uncovered last month evokes the famous distinction between “dishonest graft” and “honest graft” made by George Washington Plunkitt, a Tammany Hall politician in the early 1900s. Dishonest graft, Plunkitt explained, involves bribes and blackmail. Honest graft, in contrast, involves using one’s political and business connections, and inside knowledge, to make a fortune. Plunkitt described the principle behind “honest graft” in his motto: “I seen my opportunities and I took ‘em.”

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SB 469 Would Make Civil Disobedience a Felony in Georgia

by Gloria Tatum

(APN) ATLANTA — SB 469, an anti-union and anti-protest bill, would turn nonviolent civil disobedience into a felony punishable by imprisonment for one year and a fine of ten thousand dollars for organizations and one thousand dollars for individuals.   It also has provisions intended to weaken unions.

The bill was introduced by State Reps. Don Balfour (R-Snellville), Bill Hamrick (R-Carrollton), Bill Cowsert (R-Athens), and Ross Tolleson (R-Perry).  All four Senators are members of an organization called the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC).  ALEC bring corporations and lawmakers together to draft template legislation that is introduced in other states to change policy.   ALEC claims to be nonpartisan but is funded by several right-wing thing tanks.
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