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Mar
2013
18

NELP: 1 in 6 of ALEC Legislators’ Anti-Wage Bills Have Passed Since January 2011



The National Employment Law Project (NELP) has released a new study in which it exposes the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) influence ‘behind the curtain’ of wage suppression. In “The Politics of Wage Suppression: Inside ALEC’s Legislative Campaign Against Low-Paid Workers,” NELP lays out ALEC’s involvement in using its “model legislation” to push multiple proposals to weaken or repeal wage standards that protect the earnings of low paid workers:

The 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.

Of the 67 bills, 11 eventually became law. Christine Owens, executive director of NELP, commented:

“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.”

The NELP report focuses on ALEC’s five most prominent anti-worker areas of interest. The prevailing wage is among those five and an area in which they have pushed their model bill, the “prevailing wage repeal act,” throughout the past year. ALEC has also pushed the “Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act,” the “Starting Wage Repeal Act,” a resolution to oppose any raise in the minimum wage, and a resolution that supports the reform of wage and hour laws.

ALEC’s fingerprint on legislation has played a factor in America’s painfully slow recovery from the economic downturn. In his review of the report, Paul Harris of The Guardian notes,

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.

Read the entire NELP report.

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