Saturday, February 21, 2015

How do they sleep at night?

Alec is at it again.
A network of Republican lawmakers and their rightwing corporate funders are battling behind closed doors to block minimum wage increases in cities across the US, in a step-by-step counter-attack that could cut back the incomes of millions of Americans despite an economic upswing.
According to strategic details obtained by the Guardian, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) – along with its localised sister organization, ACCE – is trying to prevent elected city representatives from raising the minimum wage to levels above those set by their states. The group has launched an aggressive dual-track mission that combines legislation and litigation in what Alec calls a “new battleground” over worker compensation.
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 Alec’s plan to oppose minimum wage increases at the local level was set out in a recent meeting in Washington DC that brought together Republican legislators with several large corporate backers. The meeting was closed to journalists, but the Guardian has obtained details of the discussion from participants.
Cara Sullivan, who heads Alec’s commerce, insurance and economic development taskforce, told the meeting that corporate America was facing an “onslaught” of bids to raise the minimum wage at all levels of government. “Perhaps the biggest threat comes from the local level. We are seeing a number of localities that have increased their minimum wage,” she said, according to the accounts.
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 Alec’s response, Sullivan went on to explain at the meeting, is to frame and then lobby for model legislation in state assemblies across the country. She said that so far 12 states, most recently Oklahoma, have submitted anti-increase legislation based on the rightwing lobbyists’ language. “Our solution that Alec has passed is state legislation that pre-empts the polities from within the state from raising the minimum wage higher than state level,” she told the meeting.
 A copy of a model bill, called the “living wage mandate preemption act”, is posted on Alec’s website. Most recently approved by the Alec board in 2013, it provides for the repeal of any minimum wage provisions introduced by local elected bodies within a state, claiming that increases “threaten many businesses with a loss of employees”.
Walmart, which announced a minimum wage hike for its employees a few days ago, withdrew as a corporate sponsor of Alec in 2012.

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