Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sallie Mae becomes 50th corporation to drop ALEC

The right-wing legislative machine lost another corporate ally today when student loan giant Sallie Mae became the 50th corporation to leave ALEC.

The decision follows months of pressure by student groups outraged that the company's profits from student debt were supporting ALEC's anti-student and anti-worker agenda.
Think Progress reports:
...given ALEC’s work in favor of privatizing K-12 and higher education, thousands of students signed an online petition encouraging Sallie Mae -- which manages or services more than $200 billion in education loans -- urging the company to drop its support of the group.
Student organizer Chris Hicks told PR Watch that the news is a big victory in the fight against student debt. But he said there is still a long way to go:
It’s no accident that Sallie Mae has decided to leave ALEC -- from the shareholder meeting in May and the meeting students and graduates had with CEO Jack Remondi in June to the nearly 15,000 petition signatures gathered in August, students have shown Sallie Mae they are serious about their demands and are not going away.
There is much more work to be done, but this is definitely a first step to hold Sallie Mae accountable for their business practices.
ALEC remains a leading force in the war against working families, crafting model legislation in states throughout the country designed to cripple unions, dismantle workers' rights, disenfranchise middle class voters and destroy public education. ALEC has been behind just about every effort to pass anti-worker laws like right to work for less and voter suppression bills in state legislatures nationwide.

But over the years activists and labor groups have put the spotlight on ALEC, shaming dozens of its corporate members into exiting the shadowy syndicate of right-wing business interests.

Sallie Mae's departure is especially welcome given its role in holding students hostage with high-interest student loans while ALEC promotes the privatization of education. The corporate-backed campaign to privatize our schools -- from kindergarten to college -- is all about turning higher profits for companies like Sallie Mae while sinking the children of American workers deeper into poverty.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa recently wrote:
Working people struggle and fight to form unions so their children can have better lives than they do. Higher education has long been the stepping stone to a better life.  But that stone is being swept away by a tide of student debt.
The numbers tell a frightening story: As many as 30 percent of borrowers may be delinquent on their student loan debt. More students are borrowing than ever before, and they’re borrowing more – the average loan has increased by 49 percent, to $24,803, since 2005. Today, the average student in this country graduates with $26,600 in loan debt.
That’s hardly a way to get started in life when good jobs are scarcer than ever for recent college graduates.  
With Sallie Mae out of ALEC, students and workers have won another victory for education and against the right-wing corporate agenda.