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Shadowy Group at the Root of US Wage Suppression: Who Else But ALEC?

The 'last thing America's workers need is a frontal assault on pay'

Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Legislative wage-suppression and a continued attack on workers' rights have spread across the country in the years following the financial meltdown thanks largely in part to the shadowy lobbying group known as ALEC, according to a new report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

NELP's research has shown that persistent efforts to repeal state minimum wage laws, reduce minimum wage rates for youth and tipped employees, weaken overtime compensation policies, and prevent the establishment of local living wage and prevailing wage ordinances have been overwhelmingly tied to the Koch brothers' corporate interest lobbying, bill writing behemoth ALEC and the lawmakers they consistently court.

As the Center for Media and Democracy reports, "NELP has documented that since January 2011, legislators from 31 states have introduced 105 bills aiming to repeal or weaken core wage standards at the state and local level, and 67 of these 105 bills were directly sponsored or co-sponsored by legislators affiliated with ALEC."

According to the report, The Politics of Wage Suppression: Inside ALEC's Legislative Campaign Against Low-Paid Workers, eleven of those 67 bills eventually became law.

They include "an Arizona bill weakening public sector wage contracts, an Idaho bill preventing state and local government from adopting some wage laws and New Hampshire legislation that repealed that state's minimum wage law," the Guardian reports.

"State legislatures have historically served as crucial sources of momentum for passing federal legislation to raise the wages of low-paid workers. ALEC's focus on weakening or repealing critical labor standards at the state level threatens the wages and economic security of workers across the country," said Christine Owens, executive director of NELP.

"With real wages for low wage workers already declining in the post-recession recovery, the last thing America's workers need is frontal assault on pay and overall compensation by state legislatures," Owens added.

Paul Harris at the Guardian adds:

The phenomenon has come as the US economy struggles to recover from the impact of the Great Recession. Even though corporate profits are high and the stock market has soared to new record levels, job growth has been tepid and real wages largely stagnant as the economy has shifted in a low-wage direction. One study has found that around 60% of jobs lost during the recession were middle or high wage while some 58% of new jobs in the recovery have been in low-wage sectors.


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