The corporate class and their elected cronies are about to descend on the nation’s capital. They are energized by recent electoral wins. But that doesn’t mean America likes their ideas.
Fat cats and the lawmakers who love them are coming to Washington tomorrow to attend the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) State and Nation Policy Summit. There, they will meet behind closed doors to discuss how they can stop an increase in the minimum wage and workers from organizing, all while pushing for more trade deals that hurt working families and tax cuts that further build big business’ already bloated bottom lines.
A post-election breakdown by ALEC makes it clear the group believes it has been vindicated on the issues. But it’s hard to square that circle when voters in four of the nation’s most conservative states approved minimum wage increases and when every single effort to push forward with no rights-at-work legislation in 2014 failed from coast-to-coast.
There is also reason to doubt ALEC’s push on trade and taxes. The Teamsters and other fair trade advocates have led forces against the current fast-track trade promotion vehicle as well as deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and a bipartisan collection of congressmen have voiced their opposition to both. In addition, elected officials have become wise to the waste that is corporate welfare, especially when it comes out of the pockets of rank-and-file workers.
Increasingly, however, ALEC and its backers like the Koch Brothers are looking at ways to influence officials at the local level. For example, ALEC has promoted legislation that would halt local governments from passing their own laws raising the local minimum wage like scores of cities have done nationwide.
Even more worrisome, supporters recently formed the American City County Exchange (ACCE) that is aiming corporate-friendly legislation directly at local leaders. And they are hoping to use that organization to push so-called right-to-work measures that would allow non-union members to ride on the backs of paying union members when it comes to representation. It’s all part of an effort to undermine unions, which in turn would lead to lower pay for workers.
ALEC’s agenda is nothing new. It’s the same dreck corporations have trotted out year after year. But ALEC and their friends are buoyed after last month’s elections will spur them to success. More elected officials backing their position gives them reason to be hopeful. Elections do have consequences.
This is why hardworking Americans will need to stay vigilant in regard to anti-worker issues on the local, state and national levels. Our future depends on it.