Corporations are upping the ante in their attempt to take control of the political process. Under the guise of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the nation's most powerful are drafting legislation that is appearing in statehouses across the country. And the target is not just union members, but the entire middle class.
Funded in large part by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, ALEC is casting a wide net as it attempts to empower CEOs while undermining democracy. ALEC wants to make it harder for workers to contribute to political campaigns and causes. They want to alter telecommunications laws so that large phone companies can increase consumer costs while reducing consumer protections. They want gut public education by cutting student funding and implementing a voucher system. These are but a small sampling of ALEC's work across the country.
Last week, hundreds of members of Teamsters Local 886 in Oklahoma City mobilized to protest ALEC's actions during its annual meeting there. ALEC was in Oklahoma City to plot behind closed doors and continue its secretive campaign to win over legislators at the expense of working people.
One of the group's biggest efforts has been to get "paycheck protection", more accurately named "paycheck deception", legislation implemented across the country. But the only thing this legislation is really protecting is corporation's bottom line. Ground zero for this battle is currently in Missouri, where the House and Senate approved bills that would destroy workers' ability to donate to political candidates and causes as a group. Employers, meanwhile, would be unaffected.
This legislation is part of ALEC's continuing effort to shift policymaking away from the people and put it in employers' hands. Independent experts who have analyzed the measure say it doesn't provide workers with any "protection" they don't already have under current law. This is just another attempt by ALEC to further empower corporations by misleading the American public.
ALEC is also busy in Indiana pushing for the passage of an "ag-gag" bill. This legislation would bar anyone on private property from taking video or photographs that could be used to harm a business. If passed, the law would stop workers from documenting unsafe working conditions or unhealthy livestock that could make its way onto Americans' dinner tables.
ALEC's goal is clear. It wants less regulation and fewer worker protections in order to boost corporate profits. To do this, ALEC is strategically working to strip workers and middle-class families of their fundamental rights. They are trying to destroy safeguards that protect us from harm and ensure that we have a voice in our state capitals. That's why it is critical that our legislators hear a diversity of voices. If they don't, ALEC and its friends in big business will push through their agenda at our expense.
ALEC boasts that it has more than 1,000 bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. Let's make that number zero. I urge you to sign our petition and tell ALEC that we won't stand for a corporate takeover of America.