Two more large American companies, headquartered in the Midwest, have responded to their customers and cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC): General Motors (GM) and Walgreens. This brings the total to 30 corporations and four non-profits -- 34 total private sector members -- that have cut ties to the right-wing corporate bill mill.
General Motors "In Motion" Away from ALEC
GM is the $149 billion-a-year maker of Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC brand name cars, among others. About 26 percent of the company is owned by the United States government, which backed its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in 2009. It was founded in 1908 in Detroit and remains headquartered there. It employs 209,000 people, as of May 2012. Chevrolet alone sold more than 763,000 passenger cars in 2011.
Although the full extent of GM's ALEC membership is not known, it was a member in 1992. In 2011, it paid for a seat on both ALEC's Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force and its Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force. The commerce task force is the primary source of anti-worker and anti-consumer legislation such as the "Paycheck Protection" and "Right to Work" Acts and other "model" bills that limit workers' rights and drain labor unions of resources for protecting employees, undermine consumer protections, favor the Wall Street financial agenda, and limit the ability to cap exorbitant interest rates on credit cards and big bank fees.
The bills and resolutions adopted by this task force also attempt to funnel tax dollars to for-profit corporations through privatization schemes and push the "free trade" agenda that has shipped good-paying American jobs overseas. The energy and environment task force works to undermine environmental protections, limit the ability of local government to manage land use, and protect corporate polluters. "Model" bills and resolutions it adopts also attempt to thwart state and federal efforts to address climate change.
GM spokesperson Heather Rosenker confirmed that GM is no longer a member of ALEC. She told CMD, "GM regularly evaluates its membership in such organizations, and we decided to discontinue relations with ALEC at this time." During its tenure, GM was involved, she said, in efforts to support legislation regarding automobile manufacture and the business of automobile manufacture.
Walgreens: Joins CVS in Cutting ALEC Ties
Walgreens is a $72 billion-a-year corporation based in Deerfield, Illinois. It operates 7,847 drugstores in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico as of May 2012. It was founded in 1901.
One of Walgreens' major competitors, CVS Caremark, announced earlier this month that it had discontinued its ALEC membership, as CMD has reported. Like CVS, Walgreens was a member of ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force, which works to privatize Medicare, deregulate health insurers, protect negligent doctors, and cut holes in the safety net. These anti-patient "model" bills erode the rights and health of Americans. Walgreens was also a "Trustee" level sponsor of ALEC's 2011 annual meeting. It is not known whether or not Walgreens has already funded ALEC's 2012 annual meeting, where corporations and state legislators are meeting behind closed doors this week in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Debbie Garza, Walgreens' divisional vice president of government relations, told ColorOfChange.org that Walgreens will not renew its membership. "Walgreens will not be renewing its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council ('ALEC') where we have participated on ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force. Walgreens will continue to be an active presence on critical health care and pharmacy issues facing the country and looks forward to continuing to work across the political spectrum in the public policy arena," she said in an emailed statement.
The Rush to Dump ALEC
Corporations that have publicly cut ties to ALEC in recent weeks include EnergySolutions, Connections Education, Express Scripts/Medco, Best Buy, Hewlett-Packard, MillerCoors, CVS Caremark, John Deere, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart, Medtronic, Amazon.com, Scantron Corporation, Kaplan Higher Education, Procter & Gamble, YUM! Brands, Blue Cross Blue Shield, American Traffic Solutions, Reed Elsevier, Arizona Public Service, Mars, Wendy's, McDonald's, Intuit, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola. The addition of GM and Walgreens brings the total to 30. Four non-profits -- Lumina Foundation for Education, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), and the Gates Foundation -- and 56 state legislators have also cut ties with ALEC.
CMD, along with Color of Change, Common Cause, People for the American Way, Progress Now and others are focusing now on asking eBay, State Farm and AT&T to cut ties with ALEC.