Revealed: ALEC Is Behind State-by-State Push to Lower Minimum Wage

Search form

Revealed: ALEC Is Behind State-by-State Push to Lower Minimum Wage

Revealed: ALEC Is Behind State-by-State Push to Lower Minimum Wage
Thu, 3/7/2013 - by Paul Harris
This article originally appeared on The Guardian

The conservative lobbying group ALEC has been behind a major push against the pay rates of low-wage American workers by sponsoring or supporting scores of new laws aimed at weakening their protections, a new survey has found.

Since 2011, politicians backed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has hit the headlines for previous campaigns on voting rights and gun laws, have introduced 67 different laws in 25 different states on the issue.

The proposed laws are generally aimed at reducing minimum wage levels, weakening overtime protection or stopping the local creation of minimum wage laws in cities or states. Using language similar to "model bill" templates drafted by ALEC, they were put forward by local politicians who are almost always Republican and affiliated with the powerful conservative group.

Critics say ALEC is backed by powerful corporate groups that are seeking to draft legislation that serves their business interests. "Public scrutiny is the best weapon against their agenda," said Jack Temple, a policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, which advocates on workers' rights and drew up the report.

Eleven of the 67 bills eventually became law. They included an Arizona bill weakening public sector wage contracts, an Idaho bill preventing state and local government from adopting some wage laws and New Hampshire legislation that repealed that state's minimum wage law.

The phenomenon has come as the U.S. economy struggles to recover from the impact of the Great Recession. Even though corporate profits are high and the stock market has soared to new record levels, job growth has been tepid and real wages largely stagnant as the economy has shifted in a low-wage direction.

One study has found that around 60% of jobs lost during the recession were middle or high wage while some 58% of new jobs in the recovery have been in low-wage sectors.

"With real wages for low wage workers already declining in the post-recession recovery, the last thing America's workers need is frontal assault on pay and overall compensation by state legislatures," said Christine Owens, NELP's executive director.

Indeed, President Barack Obama called for a rise in the minimum wage in his state of the union address in January, though many experts see such a move as unlikely to pass Congress. ALEC, meanwhile, denies it is attacking workers' rights. "I feel that the NELP report unfairly casts ALEC as a suppressor or oppressor of American workers. We are not against employees of companies. Rather, we believe the market should dictate wages," said an ALEC spokesman.

ALEC has come under fire several times in recent years for its campaigns. After drawing serious criticism from civil rights groups for its backing of stand-your-ground gun laws and also voter ID legislation, ALEC decided last year to abandon campaigning on social policy issues in favor of concentrating on economic policies.

Article Tabs

At least two-thirds of fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate impacts – so let's end the massive subsidies that encourage their production.

Researchers have found a key factor in the Alberta steam fracking disasters – and no geological seal exists to prevent industry-made fractures caused by high-pressurized steam injections from erupting to the surface.

Recent statements by Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen – who said that certain markets, like biotech and social media, are overvalued – mark a potential revolution in how central banks worldwide could act.

After taking place in Philadelphia in 2012 and last year in Kalamazoo, Mich., the third Occupy National Gathering moves west.

Over a billion people around the world are free to bank at their neighborhood post office – yet we stand almost alone among developed countries in keeping 300 million Americans from doing likewise.

This summer, the CIA's private Amazon Web Services cloud—shielded from the public behind a wall of national security—becomes operational.

Posted 6 days 9 hours ago

Extensive research and reports commissioned by the fracking industry are treated as seminal, informative works within the U.K. government – but to date, no one outside industry vouches for its safety.

Posted 6 days 9 hours ago

From the Trans-Pacific Partnership to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership to the Trade In Services Agreement, massive trade deals are being advanced in coordination with a militarized police state.

Posted 4 days 12 hours ago

A few days after thousands marched on downtown Detroit last weekend, the city suspended mass water shutoffs for 15 days – leaving more than 15,000 households already disconnected.

Posted 4 days 12 hours ago

When a journalist in a news article refers to a woman as “strident,” you know what you’re reading is a hit piece – and that's what the New York Times produced about Occupy Wall Street activist McMillan.

Posted 5 days 12 hours ago

In an absurdly dangerous militarization of America's police departments, our sprawling DHS and Pentagon are spreading war equipment, war techniques and a war mentality to our supposed community peacekeepers and crime solvers.

Cecily McMillan is behind bars, unlike any of the architects of the financial crisis. In this exclusive conversation she explains why her sentence serves a purpose.

Senator Bernie Sanders Calls for End to Polluter Welfare

The big winners of federal support are the already immensely profitable fossil fuel and nuclear industries, not sustainable energy. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation to eliminate all subsidies to the oil, gas and coal industries.

Freedom Industries, which failed to show up at a Congressional hearing this week, knew about the leak of toxic chemicals but chose purposely not to report them – one of many company crimes for which managers should be behind bars.

Thanks to sustained pressure from ColorOfChange, this may be the first time that a series of corporations have confirmed divestment from private prisons.

Sign Up