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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
This isn't good, folks! 

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Today in History

1214   At the Battle of Bouvines in France, Philip Augustus of France defeats John of England.
1245   Frederick II is deposed by a council at Lyons, which found him guilty of sacrilege.
1586   Sir Walter Raleigh returns to England from Virginia.
1663   British Parliament passes a second Navigation Act, requiring all goods bound for the colonies be sent in British ships from British ports.
1689   Government forces defeat the Scottish Jacobites at the Battle of Killiecrankie.
1777   The Marquis of Lafayette arrives in New England to help fight the British.
1778   British and French fleets fight to a standoff in the first Battle of Ushant.
1793   Robespierre becomes a member of the Committee of Public Safety.
1861   President Abraham Lincoln replaces General Irwin McDowell with General George B. McClellen as head of the Army of the Potomac.
1905   The International Workers of the World found their labor organization in Chicago.
1909   Orville Wright sets a world record for staying aloft in an airplane–one hour, 12 minutes and 40 seconds.
1914   British troops invade the streets of Dublin, Ireland, and begin to disarm Irish rebels.
1921   Canadians Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best isolate insulin at the University of Toronto.
1944   U.S. troops complete the liberation of Guam.
1953   Representatives of the United Nations, Korea and China sign an armistice at Panmunjon, Korea.
1964   President Lyndon Johnson sends an additional 5,000 advisers to South Vietnam.
1980   Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran dies in Cairo, Egypt.
1981   William Wyler, director of Ben Hur, dies.
1993   Israeli guns and aircraft pound southern Lebanon in reprisal for rocket attacks by Hezbollah guerrillas.
2002   The largest air show disaster in history occurs when a Sukhoi Su-27 fighter crashes during an air show at Lviv, Ukraine, killing 85 and injuring more than 100 others.

Non Sequitur


Nixon’s Approval Ratings After Watergate were up to 4 Times Better than our Current Congress

Did You Know ...
It’s no secret that Congress is extremely unpopular these days. They’re so unpopular that they’ve hit an all-time low approval rating of 10% – or even 6% according to Townhall.com. In fact, Richard Nixon was up to four times more popular after Watergate than our 113th Congress is right now. Not content to stop at that, while they’ve tried to pass doomed bills repealing the Affordable Care Act and banning abortion, they’ve also snuck in something else while we weren’t paying attention. Last week, while everyone was talking about Snowden and the NSA, or Paula Deen’s exit from the Food Network, the House Financial Services Committee voted to repeal the section of the Dodd-Frank Act which requires companies to disclose the ratio of pay for their executives versus hourly workers.
Some people will say, “Why is it any of our business what a CEO of a company is paid? That should be between them and the stockholders only.” I might agree, but when so many large corporations are receiving subsidies and demanding more tax breaks, it’s only fair that we should be able to see what those dollars are being used for. If we are being forced to pay as much as $1.6 million per year, per Wal-Mart, to provide food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid to their employees, while the company makes billions in profits -- then it is absolutely our business how much the CEOs make. If states can mandate the employees of these companies to take drug tests in order to get the assistance their employers aren’t giving them, then why shouldn’t the CEOs at least disclose their compensation? In fact, the argument could be made that these CEOs should be forced to take those same drug tests as well.
When we bailed out the financial sector, only to have the banks we saved make every attempt to not renegotiate mortgages, then we absolutely have every right to know what the CEOs took home. So why has Congress been slowly and quietly working to disassemble Dodd-Frank piece by piece? While it wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, it did create some accountability and transparency that Wall Street is unwilling to live with.
So while we as a public are waiting to see what country gives Snowden asylum or what the next turn of events is in the Paula Deen scandal, Republicans in Congress (with the help of some Wall Street friendly Democrats) are working to undo the good that was done just a few years back, and take us back to the less regulated days before the last economic collapse. As unpopular as they are right now, why are they doing this at the risk of being found out and voted out next year? With our attention diverted, they’re trying to push this through and counting on us not to notice. It’s time to take that disdain for Congress that a vast majority have and use it in a productive manner — find out exactly what your elected officials are and aren’t voting for, and decide if they truly deserve your vote come next year. Because, quite frankly, it’s obvious we need to clean House (and Senate).

Did you know ...

Did You Know ...
About the 10 most dangerous places to be a woman in America

That property values dropped, property values didn't

That a lucky fan catches four foul balls at one ball game

About thehuge dead zone predicted in Gulf of Mexico this year

A bachpack filled with sex toys creates bomb scare at wal-mart

That bacteria communicate with each other to help resist anti-biotics

In the repugican world

Lunatic Fringe 

Eric Holder Puts Texas On Notice: Everyone’s Voting Rights Will Be Respected

News of the positive sort
Eric Holder Texas 
The repugicans, busily advancing a partisan political agenda by passing draconian anti-voter laws – an agenda designed to put and keep repugicans in office in 2014 and beyond – are crying foul over Attorney General Eric Holder’s move to make Texas voting change laws subject to federal approval. Holder said yesterday in a speech to the National Urban League in Philadelphia that “we believe that the state of Texas should be required to go through a pre-clearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices.”
Texas, Holder said, has a history of “pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities.”
He said to a chorus of cheers, “today, I am announcing that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a pre-clearance regime, similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.”
Watch courtesy of MSNBC:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sen John Cornyn (r-TX) says – yes, he did go there – that Holder is advancing a “partisan political agenda.”
Because Republicans lose if everybody – not just white people – is allowed to vote – that’s all wanting to let everybody vote could be, right?
Wingnut christian nationalist Sen. Ted Cruz (r-TX), who wants to ignore the Constitution to turn the United States into a theocracy controlled by his thuggish religious extremist pals, said Holder’s action is just more of the Justice Department’s “longstanding pattern of refusing to follow the law.”
Likewise, Holder continues to attack voter ID laws, even though the Supreme Court has concluded that voter ID laws are supported by multiple interests that are ‘unquestionably relevant to the State’s interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.’
Having done all in his power to sow a racial divide by ensuring minorities have no say in who runs the state, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot announced that the Obama administration is “sowing racial divide.”
The repugicans are acting like the Supreme Court’s Voting Right Act decision has given free rein to their fantasies of a Texas (and North Carolina) becoming once again a whites-only club. But Holder said,
Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the court’s ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law’s remaining sections to ensure that the voting rights of all American citizens are protected.
The goal does not sound partisan at all. The key here is the word “all citizens” – which stands in start contrast to the repugican goal of “all white citizens.”
Showing what he thinks of our democracy, Abbot calls the demand that everyone being allowed to vote “political theater.”
Holder wants a federal court in San Antonio to require the state of Texas to obtain prior approval for changes to voting laws. The Justice Department argued in its filing that, “in every redistricting cycle since 1970, courts have similarly found that one or more of Texas’ statewide redistricting plans violated the voting guarantees of the Constitution or provisions of the Voting Rights Act.”
If he gets his way, this pre-approval requirement would be in effect for 10 years and “beyond 10 years in the event of further discriminatory acts.”
Of course, Rick Perry, who has previously announced that democracy will no longer be tolerated in Texas, said in a statement,
Once again, the Obama Administration is demonstrating utter contempt for our country’s system of checks and balances, not to mention the U.S. Constitution. This end-run around the Supreme Court undermines the will of the people of Texas, and casts unfair aspersions on our state’s common-sense efforts to preserve the integrity of our elections process.
The repugican cabal will learn that the Obama administration will not surrender meekly to its injustices, or to the theft of our precious democracy.
We, as liberal-minded Americans, are fighting for our collective future, for the promise of the Constitution’s promise of the equality of all before the law.
The repugicans are fighting for the continuation and re-implementation of white privilege, an artifact not of a modern liberal democracy, but of racial and religious bigotry and hatred – a byproduct of an era – long overdue for the dustbin of history.

Kiss Your Vote Goodbye: NC Senate Rubber Stamps Extreme Voter Suppression Law

Lunatic Fringe
Thursday was an eventful day for voting rights.
In the morning, Attorney-General Eric Holder announced the DOJ’s will take legal action against Texas’ version of a voter suppression bill.
This is the Department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last,” Holder said. “Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the Court’s ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law’s remaining sections to ensure that the voting rights of all American citizens are protected.
North Carolina’s voter suppression bill got final approval in the Senate by a vote of 33 to 14 late Thursday afternoon.
The House Bill 589 aka vote suppression bill was passed in the rules committee on Monday and got the Senate’s blessing for the third time this afternoon.  Comparatively speaking in Pope’s North Carolina, three days is a long time to debate and pass a bill that contains three pages on voter ID, to eradicate non-existent rampant voter fraud, with another 53 pages on matters that wouldn’t stop voter fraud even if it did exist. The only thing this bill achieves, as Democratic Senator after Democratic Senator pointed out is suppress the vote.
Those 53 pages have provisions to reduce early voting, eliminate pre-registration, and preclude expanding voting hours on Election Day under extenuating circumstances.  They make it much easier for corporations and outside groups to buy North Carolina’s government.  They also give thugs like the Voter Integrity project a broad license to intimidate voters and vote observers license to mislead voters, as they tried to do for Mitt Romney.
Moreover, as one Democratic Senator pointed out, eliminating the straight party vote, this law really does hurt all voters, regardless of party line.  Nothing stopped them from voting for each candidate of their choice, if that’s what voters wanted to do  Moreover, nothing about voting the straight ticket suggests that people who utilize that option don’t know who they are voting for or why as one repugican Senator said in his effort to justify this provision.
Perhaps the most insidious aspect of this and other voter suppression laws was pointed out by another Democratic Senator who discussed how laws like this presume that all voters are guilty of potential voter fraud and must prove themselves innocent.
It isn’t like the Democrats had a chance to stop this bill or utilize the favorite tool of repugicans in DC – the filibuster.  Who thinks that the Pope’s repugicans were going to be swayed by anything that deviates from their marching orders. Senate approval was inevitable given that the repugicans have a filibuster proof majority. It’s also likely that Governor McCrory will sign this law, given his previous public statements.
While Pope’s repugicans may celebrate gutting the rights of North Carolinians and creating opportunities for corruption in campaign financing, this story isn’t over. Voting rights organizations already made it clear they intend to challenge this law in North Carolina’s courts.
Also, while the Supreme Court may have gutted pre-clearance, the Voting Rights Act remains the law and it remains possible that the DOJ will use it to stop implementation of a law intended to suppress votes by anyone the repugican cabal and its allies considers “suspicious” – in other words anyone who is not a repugican.
Some may question why I described this law as the worst voter suppression law ever.    It’s because while this and other laws like it clearly attempt to suppress votes by African Americans, but it goes further.  It also seeks to silence seniors, disabled people, young people and people who are poor.  For repugicans, “suspicious” voters are everyone and anyone who doesn’t goose-step with the repugican cabal.  Aside from suppressing votes, this  law gives the go ahead for a return to the days over voter intimidation, while giving a green line to corrupt campaign financing practices.  However, there is nothing about this bill that resembles as one repugican Senator claimed an effort to make every voter’s vote equal.
One interesting twist was made by a repugican Senator who claimed that this bill doesn’t suppress the vote, because when other states did it in 2012 – voting in their states went up.  That’s because people recognizing that repugicans were coming for their votes so it was a matter of using it or losing it.  It was not because these laws made voting more accessible!
Some might even say this law is more consistent with fascism than with government of the people, for the people and by the people.

NC Senate Sticks It to Women with Final Approval of Its Attack on Reproductive Rights

Lunatic Fringe
On the heels of suppressing voting rights, North Carolina’s Senate was on a roll and gave final approval to their version of state interference in women’s reproductive health.
We’ve seen similar laws in other repugican controlled states – most recently Texas.  In short, they introduce a series of regulations on existing reproductive health clinics that are impossible to comply with, cost prohibitive or both.
In North Carolina’s version, the provision that stood out the most for public debate requires reproductive health clinics to meet the same regulatory standards required of ambulatory surgery clinics.  This is a trick du jour of repugicans who fantasize about women living to blink and say yes master to their husbands before moving on to the next pregnancy.
Another provision is touted by the corporate media, like CNN and WRAL   as requiring the doctor to be present during the entire surgical procedure.  But as “Pam Pearson”, who commented on CNN’s report  pointed out this is misleading.
The part of the bill that “requires doctors to be present during an abortion” concerns medical, non-surgical abortions, which are performed in some states with the doctor advising via a webcast (sometimes called telemedicine) – it’s a way to provide support for this sort of procedure to remote areas, although it is not currently being done in NC in this fashion. The other part of the bill would require a doctor to stay with a patient throughout the surgical and post-surgical period of an abortion, instead of allowing other health care professionals to address these needs, as they typically do in the context of other procedures. The truth – all these provisions are designed to restrict access to abortion and reproductive healthcare, they have NOTHING to do with safety or concern for women.
Indeed, other provisions bolster Pearson’s assertion that this has nothing to do with safety or concern for women. The fact that repugicans first tried to pass this in  a bill on Sharia law in the dead of the night, then in a bill regulating motorcycles is sort of a red flag that this is about fulfiling an ideological agenda. Aside from those provisions the bill contains some other features that do nothing to raise standards or address women’s safety.  Such as:
- Any healthcare provider is free to opt out of abortion procedures.
- Prohibts  healthcare insurance providers in the ACA exchange from offering coverage for abortion services.  (The irony is that many healthcare plans also don’t provide coverage for prenatal care and other pregnancy services.)
- Bans cities and counties from offering their employee’s health care policies that include coverage for abortions.
This is intrusive government on steroids.  Aside from intruding on women’s personal decision making, bills like this also intervene  on the relationship a woman has with her significant other or spouse and her doctor – not to mention the fact that it intrudes on decisions made by cities and counties.
Combined with the voter suppression bill, Pope’s repugicans are sticking it to every North Carolinian they can in the waning hours before they close session.
It’s possible that Governor McCrory will honor his campaign promise to veto any bill restricting women’s reproductive rights.  But then, I don’t believe in multi-colored unicorns either.

The truth be told

Did You Know ...

The repugicans Launch A Campaign to Convince The Uninsured NOT to Buy Health Insurance

Lunatic Fringe
Legislation to repeal healthcare reform continues to go nowhere, so the repugican cabal is now trying to defeat Obamacare by convincing the uninsured not to buy health insurance.
Reuters reported that, “With the Obama administration poised for a huge public education campaign on healthcare reform, repugicans and their allies are mobilizing a counter-offensive including town hall meetings, protests and media promotions to dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage…President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy is the first major social program to face a highly organized and well-financed opposition years after enactment. The forces arrayed against it could undermine the aim of extending health coverage to millions of uninsured people at affordable rates, if not enough younger adults sign up to make it economically viable.”
This is part of the secret repugican playbook for 2014, “It’s Romneyesque in its blind fail. It’s ORCA on steroids. From giving subject lines for op-eds (because nothing says opinion like a copy and paste!) to giving instructions for how to use townhalls for propaganda so they can stay on the offensive, repugicans are bound and determined to double down on the fail.”
The same wingnut corporate billionaires and media chimps who were behind the Astroturf efforts to stop Obamacare from being passed are mobilizing again to try to convince the American people that having health insurance is a bad thing. The repugicans don’t want you to be able to see a doctor. If you can see a doctor when you need to, you might like it, and that would be a “win” for President Obama.
The repugicans have moved beyond obstructing the legislation. They’ve blown past trying to obstruct the implementation of the law. The repugicans are literally trying to convince individual Americans that healthcare is bad for them. This is the repugican cabal’s last gasp effort to stop Obamacare. The law kicks in on October 1. The only way that they can stop millions of people from getting health insurance is to lie them, and hide how it will benefit them. It might be funny, if their efforts to misinform didn’t have such deadly consequences. People could die if they believe the repugican cabal’s misinformation,and refuse to buy health insurance.
The repugican candidates around the country will campaign on stopping Obamacare in 2014, but it is unlikely that they will be able to do anything more to repeal the law no matter how the election turns out. Their best chance to get rid healthcare reform will come after the presidential election in 2016. By the time the next president takes office, millions of uninsured Americans will have had health insurance for over two years. Good luck trying to convince millions of people that it is a good idea to take away their healthcare.
Twenty six million Americans are eligible for Obamacare subsidies, but they don’t know it. Families making $47,000-$94,000 a year are also eligible, and one third of those eligible for subsidies are age 18-34. The repugicans are trying to make sure that these people stay uninformed, because denying Barack Obama a victory is more important than the health and well being of the constituents that they have taken an oath to represent.

OK, so where were the cameras this time?

Good Question

Just How Low Can Your Salary Go?

On The Job
117 ALEC Bills in 2013 Fuel Race to the Bottom in Wages and Worker Rights
At least 117 bills introduced in 2013 fuel a "race to the bottom" in wages, benefits, and worker rights and resemble "model" bills from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), according to a new analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of ALECexposed.org.
"Right to Work" protesterA silent protester cries while wearing a sticker over her mouth signifying the loss in wages from the "Right to Work" law in Lansing, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. Michigan became the 24th state with a right-to-work law after Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill. As working Americans speak out for higher wages, better benefits, and respect in the workplace, a coordinated, nationwide campaign to silence them is mounting -- and ALEC is at the heart of it. ALEC corporations, right-wing think tanks, and monied interests like the Koch brothers are pushing legislation throughout the country designed to drive down wages; limit health care, pensions, and other benefits; and cripple working families' participation in the political and legislative process.
ALEC has pushed an anti-worker agenda since at least 1979, when it began striking out against "forced unionism" and for a "right to work," says a 1998 ALEC document. This "right to work" agenda does not create jobs or job security, but it does tilt the playing field against workers to give corporations more profits -- and CEOs more power -- in the workplace and in the political arena.

Emboldened ALEC Goes on the Offense

Shortly after the 2010 election in which repugicans stole control of 26 state houses, ALEC welcomed hundreds of new members at its annual States and Nation Policy Summit in Washington, D.C. December 1-3. On the agenda: how to crush unions -- key funders of the Democratic Party. Wisconsin Senator Majority leader and ALEC state chair Scott Fitzgerald said of the meeting, "I was surprised about how much momentum there was in and around that discussion, like nothing I have ever seen before."
On February 11, 2011, ALEC legislators and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (a former state legislator and ALEC alum) sent shock waves through the state by introducing a "Budget Repair Bill" (Act 10) that effectively eliminated collective bargaining for 380,000 school teachers, snow plow drivers, prison guards, nurses, bus drivers, and more. A key aspect of the law, which prohibits government employers from using payroll deduction of union dues, reflects ALEC's so-called "paycheck protection" bills and the "Public Employer Payroll Deduction Policy Act."
Wisconsin Capitol 2011 protestsWisconsin Capitol 2011 protestsThe move generated massive protests, an 18-day occupation of the Capitol, and an attempted recall. Video of Walker talking to a billionaire campaign contributor surfaced in which he explained that the goal was to "divide and conquer" -- first going after public sector workers, then private sector. Another governor with deep ties to ALEC, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, and his ALEC legislators followed Wisconsin's lead when they attempted to strip some 350,000 workers of their collective bargaining rights, but the Ohioans succeeded in overturning the law by statewide referendum in November 2011.
ALEC's mallet of choice for private-sector workers is so-called "Right to Work" legislation. These laws were utilitized in Southern states before and after WWII to supresss wages and keep out unions like the CIO, which supported an end to Jim Crow laws and racial segregation. In the decades that followed, they made little headway in northern states. In 2012, however, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana rammed a "Right to Work" bill through the legislature. Next was the battle royale in Michigan. Governor Rick Snyder pushed "Right to Work" through a lame duck session in December 2012 right before a new, more worker-friendly legislature was sworn in. As CMD reported, it contained verbatim language from the ALEC bill.
Wisconsin Capitol protestor 2011Wisconsin Capitol protestor 2011In every instance, ALEC and the Kochs were there to cheer the radical policies on. Koch Industries has long been an ALEC funder, serving on ALEC's corporate "Private Enterprise" board, but the Kochs also exercise their power through Americans for Prosperity, a David Koch founded and funded political action group that spent millions on TV defending ALEC legislators and Scott Walker against recall and providing fake, astroturf support for the bills in Ohio and Michigan. It's not the first time the Koch family has come to the aid of union-busting bills. The Institute for Southern Studies points out that in 1958, Kansas passed a right-to-work law "with the support of Texas-born energy businessman Fred Koch, who viewed unions as vessels for communism and [racial] integration."
Other high-profile ALEC fights include battles over "paycheck protection" in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, and Missouri. In 2012, Californians battled an ALEC-style "paycheck protection" bill, disguised as campaign finance reform. Prop 32 was defeated at the polls in November 2012, but not until millions had been spent on both sides. Opponents were right to be worried. New numbers from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel show that Wisconsin's Act 10, which crippled unions' ability to negotiate for better pay and benefits, cut union membership in half and forced workers to pay thousands more in benefits.
While ALEC and its supporters frame their actions as fiscally responsible and pro-worker, it is clear that this is a deeply political agenda. An analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that, on the whole, these types of bills don't create new rights for employees but "significantly tilt the political playing field by enabling unlimited corporate political spending while restricting political spending of organized workers." Fox News reporter Shepard Smith put it even more bluntly. He noted that of the top 10 political donors in the United States, only three donated to Democrats -- all unions. "Bust the unions, and it's over" for the Democrats, he said.

ALEC's Attack on Wages, Benefits, and Unions Harms All Workers

ALEC's wage suppression agenda also targets non-union workers in the low-wage sectors that are forming the core of the U.S. economy. In an issue brief called "The Politics of Wage Suppression: Inside ALEC's Legislative Campaign Against Low-Paid Workers," the National Employment Law Project counted 67 bills sponsored or co-sponsored by ALEC politicians in 2011-12 that eroded wages and labor standards.
Gordon Lafer, a political economist at the University of Oregon's Labor Education and Research Center and a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), told CMD, "ALEC's efforts against the minimum wage, prevailing and living wage, paid sick leave, etc. are an across the board attempt both to worsen any kind of labor standard and also to undermine any institutional or legal basis through which workers exercise some control over the workplace in the labor market."
As Lafer notes, the fate of union workers and non-union workers are inextricably linked: "Unions help raise standards for non-union workers. In places with unionized workers, that increases the pressure on employers of non-unionized workers to reach and meet similar standards." To cite just one example, ALEC's "Right to Work" law alone depresses wages for both union and non-union workers by an average of $1,500 a year, according to an EPI study.

But you won't see these statistics at ALEC. In an annual propagandistic ritual, ALEC "scholars" rank states' economic outlook based on how well states are following ALEC policy prescriptions. While Wisconsin under Scott Walker has consistently ranked amongst the worst in the country in job growth and economic performance even by groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in ALEC's world, Walker's state is 15th in economic outlook.

ALEC Bills Attack Working Families

ALEC specializes in bill names that only a master propagandist would love:
  • ALEC's so-called "Right to Work Act" bill (introduced in 15 states in 2013) does nothing to create jobs or job security, but it does shred the fabric of unions by preventing them from requiring each employee who benefits from the terms of a contract to pay his or her share of the costs of administering it. While unions can exist in "Right to Work" states, they are in a much weaker position. When a state can't pass a proposal as radical as "Right to Work," ALEC has provided dozens of other options.
  • ALEC's so-called "Paycheck Protection" bill (introduced in six states in 2013) requires that unions establish separate segregated funds for political activities, and prohibits the collection of union dues for those activities without the express authorization of the employee. The "Public Employee Paycheck Protection Act" (introduced in four states in 2013) forces employees to approve union payroll deductions each year. The "Political Funding Reform Act" (introduced in five states in 2013) prohibits payroll deductions for any funds that might be used for political purposes. The more extreme "Public Employer Payroll Deduction Policy Act" (introduced in five states in 2013) prohibits deduction of all union dues. All these bills are attempts to dismantle unions in the guise of worker freedom. For federal electoral spending, unions already have segregated funding requirements. At the state level, the U.S. Supreme Court long ago gave protections to any worker who does not want their union dues to go to politics. Unions have had opt-out systems in place for decades.
  • Multiple bills attacking prevailing wage, living wages, and minimum wages have been introduced across the country (in at least 14 states). ALEC is on record as being against these measures that not only put an upward pressure on wages in a region but also set a very low floor (a full-time worker earning minimum wage earns $15,080 a year, which is not much for a family of four to live on) below which not even the Koch brothers are allowed to pay. Experts at the National Employment Law Project say that ALEC's "wage suppression agenda" serves as a significant counterforce to fights across the nation at the state and local level for better wages and workplace standards.
  • ALEC advances privatization and outsourcing of public services to workers with fewer credentials, lower salaries and fewer benefits, with model bills such as the Council On Efficient Government Act(introduced in four states), which establishes a committee to assess how for-profit corporations can capture taxpayer dollars by operating public services.
  • Michigan's Mackinac Center -- an ALEC member and a member of the network of right-wing state-based think tanks the State Policy Network that works closely with ALEC -- brought three new bills limiting workers' rights to ALEC's Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force in 2012: "The Election Accountability for Municipal Employee Union Representatives Act" (introduced in Idaho) would require public sector employees to vote on unionization every three to five years (a majority of all eligible members -- not just voting members -- would be required to maintain union representation); "The Decertification Elections Act" (introduced in Arizona) would make it easier for both public and private employees to decertify their union; and "The Financial Accountability for Public Employee Unions Act" (introduced in Montana; passed Michigan in 2012) would require public sector unions to publish audits of their financial activities.
  • Ten states introduced proposals to dramatically alter pensions for teachers and other public employees by moving towards the elimination of defined benefit pension plans (which guarantee a certain level of benefits), to be replaced by defined contribution plans (which leave the payout to market forces). These bills reflect the principles in the ALEC "Public Employees' Portable Retirement Option (PRO) Act" and the ALEC "Statement of Principles on State and Local Government Pension and Other Post Employment Benefits Plans." These proposals are backed by big Wall Street firms, which earn money by extracting millions of dollars in fees and administration costs from privately-managed retirement plans. It is worth noting that ALEC also supports the privatization of Social Security, with its "Resolution Urging Congress To Modernize the Social Security System With Personal Retirement Accounts (PRA's)" (introduced in Arizona this year).

ALEC Corporations Reap the Rewards

All ALEC firms benefit from ALEC's efforts to advance a low-road for wages and working conditions in America, but some firms have special culpability for this agenda:

Average Americans Pay the Price

Eleven states have introduced bills in 2013 to override or prevent local paid sick leave ordinances. At least eight of these were sponsored by ALEC members, and this is no accident. Although ALEC has not adopted such a bill as an official "model," ALEC member the National Restaurant Association (NRA) brought a bill to override local paid sick leave ordinances to ALEC in 2011, as CMD has reported.
The commerce task force's Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee took up "paid family medical leave" as the sole topic of discussion at the ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting in Louisiana. Subcommittee meeting attendees were given complete copies of Wisconsin's 2011 Senate Bill 23 (now Wisconsin Act 16). They were also handed a target list and map of state and local paid sick leave policies prepared by the NRA. Since then, Louisiana enacted a similar law in 2012, and 2013 has seen the introduction of a spate of similar bills, with Mississippi, Kansas, Tennessee, and Florida signing the measures into law.
Flora Anaya (Source: Voces de la Frontera)Flora AnayaForty percent of American workers have no access to paid sick leave. Family Values @ Work, a non-profit network of 21 state coalitions working for family-friendly workplace polices, has documented some of the impact on workers and the economy in its brochure, "Sick and Fired." Among other facts, it notes that 23 percent of workers have been fired or threatened with dismissal after taking time to care for themselves or their family members.
Wisconsin Act 16 overrode Milwaukee's popular paid sick leave ordinance that was passed in November 2008 by referendum with nearly 70 percent of the popular vote. In 2011, while the Capitol was surrounded by protesters and Democratic Senators were out of state, the Wisconsin Legislature moved to override the measure.
Ellen Bravo, head of Family Values @ Work told CMD, "People were elated when they won the right to paid sick days in Milwaukee, and outraged when that right was stolen from them by the state legislature in that incredibly underhanded way."
Flora Anaya worked at Palermo's Pizza in Milwaukee for five years. She and her co-workers decided to take action against the company because of its harsh paid sick day policy. Anaya told CMD:
Getting any type of day off for being sick was extremely hard. Palermo's sick day policy was absolutely inhumane. If you missed three days within six months, you would lose your job, even if you brought a doctor's excuse. And if you were one minute late to work, it was treated as an absence for the entire day.
In 2009, I was pregnant and in pain. One day it was so bad, I asked for permission to leave to go to the emergency room. I told one supervisor, but that supervisor didn't relay it to my line supervisor, and they stopped me from leaving. This happened all the time, to so many of us.


ALEC has been a historic force in suppressing wages and workers' rights and continues to exert its influence in states across the country in 2013. Where is the bottom in ALEC's race to the bottom for America's workers?
Charles Koch made the agenda of the Koch's, ALEC and their allies very clear in a recent interview with the Wichita Eagle. He laid out his vision of "economic freedom" for America. Key to this freedom for the Koch's is the repeal of the "avalanche of regulations" that creates a "culture of dependency" in the United States.
Top of the list of burdensome regulations needing repeal? "The minimum wage,"opines Koch.
Koch's "economic freedom" and ALEC's legislative agenda may not leave much of an economy for the rest of us.
Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, put it best when he told CMD, "The sole purpose of ALEC has been to develop the most anti-middle class, pro-corporation policies, legislation, and agenda in history. They've been waiting for just the right moment to reverse the progress of the American middle class and drive everyone to the bottom, to the lowest wages, the weakest benefits, no job security, and no retirement to speak of. We may not have the billions of dollars of the Koch brothers. But we have each other and we must stick together and fight ALEC's cynical and un-American agenda."
View the full list of 2013 ALEC worker rights bills here and below.
ALEC Worker Rights Bills 2013
State ALEC Bill State Bill
AR Prevailing Wage Repeal Act HB 1151
AR Resolution Urging Congress to Modernize the Social Security System With Personal Retirement Accounts HR 1047
AR The Occupational Licensing Relief and Job Creation Act SB 894
AR ALEC's Statement of Principles on State and Local Government Pension and Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) Plans SB 123
AZ Public Employee Paycheck Protection Act SB 1349 SB 1182
AZ Prohibition on Paid Union Activity (Release Time) by Public Employees Act SB 1348 HB 2343
AZ Public Employee Bargaining Transparency Act HB 2330
AZ Public Employees' Portable Retirement Option HB 2653
AZ Public Employee Paycheck Protection Act SB 1142
AZ Public Employer Payroll Deduction Policy Act HB 2026
CO Right to Work Act HB 13-1106
CT Resolution in Opposition to any Increase in the Starting (Minimum) Wage HB 5237
CT Prohibition on Paid Union Activity (Release Time) by Public Employees Act HB 5705
CT ALEC's Statement of Principles on State and Local Government Pension and Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) Plans SB 153 HB 5009 HB 5190 HB 5191 HB 5559 HB 5702 SB 346
CT Public Employees' Portable Retirement Option (PRO) Act HB 5698
CT Resolution to Align Pay and Benefits of Public Sector Workers with Private Sector Workers SB 308 HB 5563 SB 347
CT Paycheck Protection Act HB 5699
FL ALEC's Statement of Principles on State and Local Government Pension and Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) Plans H 7011
FL Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act H 655
GA Right to Work Act HB 144
GA At-will Employment Act HB 172
GA Paycheck Protection Act HB 361
HI Right to Work Act SB 261
IA Right to Work Act HJR 1
ID The Election Accountability for Municipal Employee Union Representatives Act S 1039
ID School Collective Bargaining Agreement Sunshine Act S 1098 H 67
IL Right to Work Act HB 3160
IL Political Funding Reform Act HB 3161
IL Public Employee Bargaining Transparency Act HB 2689
IL School Collective Bargaining Agreement Sunshine Act HB 182
IN Political Funding Reform Act SB 605
IN Resolution on Release Time for Union Business SB 102
IN Public Employer Payroll Deduction Policy Act SB 605 SB 312
IN ALEC's Statement of Principles on State and Local Government Pension and Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) Plans SB 248
KS Public Employee Freedom Act HB 2123
KS Paycheck Protection Act HB 2022
KY Right to Work Act HB 308
KY Prevailing Wage Repeal Act HB 312 SB 105 HB 257
LA Paycheck Protection Act HB 552
MA Council on Efficient Government Act SB 1539 SB 1550
MD Right to Work Act SB 668 HB 318
MD Employee Rights Reform Act SB 422
ME Right to Work Act HP 582
ME Political Funding Reform Act LD 110
ME Alternative Certification Act SP 461
MI The Occupational Licensing Relief and Job Creation Act HB 4641
MO Right to Work Act SB 76 SB 238 HB 77 HB 95
MO Employee Rights Reform Act SB 29 SB 71
MO Public Employee Paycheck Protection Act HB 64
MO Prevailing Wage Repeal Act SB 30
MS Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act SB 2473 HB 141
MT Public Employer Payroll Deduction Policy Act SB 219 LC 0230
MT ALEC's Statement of Principles on State and Local Government Pension and Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) Plans HB 112 SB 82
MT The Financial Accountability for Public Employee Unions Act SB 253
NC Paycheck Protection Act SB 702
NE Defined-Contribution Pension Reform Act LB 638
NH Right to Work Act HB 323
NH Workplace Drug Testing Act HB 597
NM Right to Work Act HB 351
NV Resolution in Opposition to any Increase in the Starting (Minimum) Wage SJR 2
NY An Act Providing for the Detection and Prevention of Fraud Waste Abuse and Improper Payments in State Government S 4815
OH Right to Work Act HB 151 HB 152
OH Prevailing Wage Repeal Act HB 190
OK Career Ladder Opportunities Act HB 2121
OK Council on Efficient Government Act SB 1008
OK Public Employee Paycheck Protection Act SB 31
OK Paycheck Protection Act SB 31
OR Right to Work Act HB 3062
PA Right to Work Act HB 50 HB 54
PA Defined-Contribution Pension Reform Act SB 2
SC Council on Efficient Government Act SB 226
SC Public Employer Payroll Deduction Policy Act H 3782
SC Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act H 3941
SD Voluntary Contributions (Paycheck Protection) Act HB 1243
TN Political Funding Reform Act HB 502 SB 490
TN An Act Providing for the Detection and Prevention of Fraud, Waste, Abuse and Improper Payments in State Government HB 397 SB 556
TN Public Employee Paycheck Protection Act HB 913 SB 725
TX Prevailing Wage Repeal Act HB 1207
TX Alternative Certification Act HB 2318
TX State Council on Competitive Government Act SB 1681
UT Council on Efficient Government HB 0094
UT Public Employee Bargaining Transparency Act HB 362
VA Great Teachers and Leaders Act SB 1223
VT Employee Rights Reform Act H 64
WA ALEC's Statement of Principles on State and Local Government Pension and Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) Plans SB 5856
WV Right to Work Act HB 2010
WV Prevailing Wage Repeal Act HB 2576
WV Employee Rights Reform Act SB 164
WV Alternative Certification Act SB 359