Since the Center for Media and Democracy's launch of ALEC Exposed in July 2011, CMD has known that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its corporate funders are accelerating the race to the bottom in wages and working conditions for America's working families. ALEC has a raft of "model bills" to lower wages and slash benefits for workers, even one to repeal state minimum wage laws.
Now the National Employment Law Project (NELP) has joined in the effort to take a closer look at this ALEC agenda, tallying the bills introduced and pushed in states in the last few years.
In an issue brief called "The Politics of Wage Suppression: Inside ALEC's Legislative Campaign Against Low-Paid Workers," 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.
ALEC legislators have worked to weaken wage standards at the state level by repealing state minimum wage laws, reducing minimum wage rates for youth and tipped workers, weakening overtime compensation policies, and preventing the establishment of local living wage and prevailing wage ordinances, says NELP.
"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.
ALEC's wage suppression agenda targets workers in the low-wage sectors that are forming the core of the U.S. economy: according to a study released in August 2012 by NELP, 60 percent of jobs lost during the recession were middle-wage and high-wage occupations, while 58 percent of jobs gained in the recovery have been low-wage occupations.
Read the new report here and check out NELP's handy chart of bills for a look at what is happening in your state.