Monday, November 24, 2014

Here's what ALEC has in store for workers in 2015

The corporate dating service for state lawmakers known as ALEC once again has working men and women in its sights. And not in a good way. Early in December, ALEC (or the American Legislative Exchange Council) will present its plans on empowering corporations, pauperizing workers and eradicating private education in Washington, D.C., according to our friends at the Center for Media and Democracy.

Newly elected state lawmakers will be flown at taxpayers' or ALEC's expense to the nation's capital. There they'll be treated to three days of expensive meals and access to corporate lobbyists with big bankrolls. If they want to continue to enjoy ALEC's largesse, they'll sign up, go home and try to pass bills written by the corporate lobbyists.

ALEC's whole mission is to sever the ties between elected representatives and the people who elected them -- and to replace the will of the people with the will of the corporation.

One of the ways ALEC will try to crush democracy is to make it harder for local governments to pass laws governing wages and sick time.

The National Restaurant Association, an ALEC member, wants state legislatures to pass "Minimum Wage Preemption Policies.” These would block municipal governments from passing laws to raise the minimum wage or require paid sick days. ALEC legislators have also been active in banning local paid sick day efforts. They've managed to pass 10 anti-sick day laws after Wisconsin's version was shared at an ALEC meeting in August 2011.

ALEC claims it's for free markets, but it isn't. What ALEC really wants is protection for big corporations from government, consumers and small businesses. Here's an example: 
ALEC's big insurance members want to tilt the playing field in their favor by limiting the ability of small businesses or consumers to dispute a property insurance claim they deny. ALEC's plan lets insurance companies get around state law by writing exceptions into the policy. It also lets them shorten deadlines for claim filing and statute of limitation deadlines. Finally, it makes it harder for businesses or consumers to hire lawyers or dispute denials by restricting awards of attorney fees or penalty interest. 
ALEC also wants to take away public control of education and turn it over to corporations. Expect ALEC to promote its "Public Charter School Act" in 2015. The bill lifts caps on the number of for-profit schools in a state, excuse them from following many state laws and releases them from any existing collective bargaining agreements.

Of course there's nothing better for empowering corporations than a giant trade deal like Nafta, and you can bet ALEC is supporting all the new bad trade deals coming down the pike: TPP, TTIP and TISA.

But wait -- there's some good news. Corporations are realizing their employees and their customers aren't pleased with their membership in an anti-worker, anti-consumer lobbying group. So they're leaving ALEC in drovers. The Center for Media and Democracy fills us in on the latest
Emerson Electric is the latest corporation to confirm it has ended funding for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), joining a notable wave of recent corporate defectors that has included Microsoft, Google, Facebook, AOL and Yahoo. 
The Teamsters will be fighting ALEC's anti-worker legislation in Statehouses around the country -- until the last corporation leaves and turns out ALEC's lights.