by Brian Washington
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The wealthy corporate funders who make up the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the right wing state politicians who love getting wined and dined by them are reportedly joining forces again to rob the “little guy”—working Americans.
According to recent news reports, ALEC is launching a campaign to block minimum wage increases in several cities across the country through legislation or litigation. The strategy was hatched in December at ALEC’s Washington, D.C. meeting, which involved three days of backroom dealing between wealthy business tycoons like billionaires Charles and David Koch, also known as the Koch brothers, and state politicians like the ones caught on tape last year in Arizona being given the VIP treatment by ALEC lobbyists at a high-priced restaurant.
The Guardian reported the story last month and did a good job of laying out how ALEC courts politicians at the state level to do its bidding to bolster the top of the nation’s income scale, the 1-percent:
It (ALEC) acts as a form of dating service, bringing together large corporations—such as the oil empire of the right wing tycoons the Koch brothers—with state legislators who can introduce new legislation, sometimes copied whole-cloth, that is favorable to such businesses.
ALEC also has a sister-group, the American City County Exchange (ACCE), which is carrying out ALEC’s mission at the city and county levels.
According to The Guardian, those in attendance at the December meeting stated they are losing the minimum wage argument and they appear to be right. A recent national poll shows that six out of 10 Americans—more than half—want a higher minimum wage.
Minimum wage campaigns have proven successful in places like Seattle, where voters approved a $15 minimum wage. A similar hike has also been granted in San Francisco. Chicago has introduced a $13 minimum wage while the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego plan on phasing in approved wage increases. Wage hikes have been approved in red states as well, including South Dakota and Arkansas.
Meanwhile, WalMart, which used to be a member of ALEC, has also agreed to raise its base rate to $9 an hour for about 40 percent of its employees. This after the company was on the receiving end of a huge round of public criticism for its notoriously low wages.
However, to counter this momentum, ALEC has what it calls the Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act, model legislation with deceptive and seemingly-innocuous language written by ALEC and its corporate sponsors. ALEC will use its power and influence to get the bill approved by state legislatures nationwide.
In addition, The Guardian is also reporting that ALEC members are being encouraged to bring lawsuits to stop local governments from introducing pay increases. ALEC wants small business owners to be the face of its kill-the-minimum-wage campaign and want them say that minimum wage hikes threaten their businesses and establishments.
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