Over 70 cities are participating today in a national day of action called by Occupy Portland to "Shut Down the Corporations." The group calls for non-violent direct action to "target corporations that are part of the American Legislative Exchange Council which is a prime example of the way corporations buy off legislators and craft legislation that serves the interests of corporations and not people."
The group explains the action on its website:
Occupy Portland calls for a national day of non-violent direct action to reclaim our voices and challenge our society’s obsession with profit and greed by shutting down the corporations. We are rejecting a society that does not allow us control of our future. We will reclaim our ability to shape our world in a democratic, cooperative, just and sustainable direction.
We call on the Occupy Movement and everyone seeking freedom and justice to join us in this day of action.
There has been a theft by the 1% of our democratic ability to shape and form the society in which we live and our society is steered toward the destructive pursuit of consumption, profit and greed at the expense of all else.
We call on people to target corporations that are part of the American Legislative Exchange Council which is a prime example of the way corporations buy off legislators and craft legislation that serves the interests of corporations and not people. They used it to create the anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin and the racist bill SB 1070 in Arizona among so many others. They use ALEC to spread these corporate laws around the country.
In doing this we begin to recreate our democracy. In doing this we begin to create a society that is organized to meet human needs and sustain life.
On February 29th, we will reclaim our future from the 1%. We will shut down the corporations and recreate our democracy.
— Occupy Congress (@Re_Occupy) February 29, 2012
Sara Jerving further explains ALEC on the Center for Media & Democracy:
ALEC is best described as a “bill mill” for corporate special interest legislation. Through ALEC, corporations vote behind closed doors with state legislators on changes to the law they desire that often directly benefit their bottom line. Along with right-wing legislators from across the country, corporations are given “a voice and a vote” on “model” bills to change the law in almost every area affecting people’s rights. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces. They fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. They have their own corporate governing board. They vote as equals with legislators to pre-approve legislation. Participating politicians then bring these bills home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing their origins in ALEC. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door. This is not what democracy is supposed to look like.
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) February 29, 2012
David Moberg looks at Occupy Portland's plan to target Verizon in In These Times:
In Portland, as part of the day of actions, Jobs With Justice (JWJ) is targeting Verizon, which is an ALEC board member. The company currently is demanding concessions from its unionized land-line employees in the eastern half of the country and is fighting the organization of mobile telephone workers, including those in Portland.
Meanwhile, it pushes for government subsidies and tax breaks and promotes legislation harmful to workers and consumers, says Madelyn Elder, a Communications Workers of America local president and board member of JWJ. ALEC has slowly been building a presence, but Democratic control of the Senate has constrained its influence, says Common Cause Oregon executive director Janice Thompson.
Their planned protest "is about the 1 percent being greedier than ever while the 99 percent suffer unemployment, underemployment and cutbacks," Elder says. "It's all of the same piece. Labor sees that. And Occupy is the best thing that ever happened to labor."
— OccupyAustin (@OccupyAustin) February 29, 2012