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New NELP Study Shows that ALEC Is Engaged in Widespread Campaign to Suppress Wages

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Kenneth Quinnell
Kenneth Quinnell

new report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) shows that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is engaged in a widespread campaign to suppress the wages of already low-wage workers. ALEC has created model legislation that is designed to weaken or repeal state minimum wage laws, reduce minimum wages for young workers and tipped workers, weaken overtime compensation rules and stop local governments from passing living wage ordinances.

The report found that since January 2011, 31 state legislatures have introduced 105 bills that attack wage standards at the state or local level. More than half of those bills were directly sponsored or co-sponsored by legislators with ties to ALEC. The report also warns that increased conservative strength in state legislatures means that working families face a stronger threat than they have in recent years.

NELP describes ALEC’s agenda:

The American Legislative Exchange Council—a “forum for state legislators and private sector leaders to discuss and exchange practical, state-level public policy issues”—has been the subject of substantial criticism over the past year for its promotion of controversial voter ID legislation, “Stand Your Ground” laws and measures to roll back environmental protections. In recent years, however, ALEC-affiliated state legislators from across the country have also conducted a parallel effort to weaken wage and workplace standards designed to protect the earnings and economic security of the country’s lowest-paid workers.

Although ALEC is trying to influence state legislatures to suppress wages, working families in 24 states are building momentum across the United States to raise the minimum wage. Read more about efforts to raise the federal minimum wage here.

This article was originally posted on the AFL-CIO on March 6, 2013. Reprinted with Permission.

About the Author: Kenneth Quinnell is a long-time blogger, campaign staffer and political activist whose writings have appeared on AFL-CIO, Daily Kos, Alternet, the Guardian Online, Media Matters for America, Think Progress, Campaign for America’s Future and elsewhere.

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The Importance of Labor Day: A Word from Our Co-Founder

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Labor Day gives us a chance to review necessary changes in our labor/employment laws.

1.  Employees need greater protection from economic layoffs by:

  • requiring all employers give more advance notice,
  • mandating reasonable severance pay,
  • availability of career counseling and job training,
  • extending employer paid health insurance for a reasonable period.

2. Employees need more protection from arbitrary, unfair, unjust terminations for alleged performance and misconduct issues.  The cruel employment-at-will doctrine needs to be eliminated by the judiciary and legislation.

3. The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) should be expanded to cover small employers, and part time and new employees.

4. Adequate medical treatment should be available to all Americans, through health insurance or a single-payer program like Medicare.

5. The National Labor Relations Act should be amended to:

  • permit awards of punitive damages against employers who commit unfair labor practices,
  • prevent employers from depriving unions of their ability to organize and bargain collectively.

6. Employees should have protection of their right of privacy concerning strictly personal email and off-duty conduct.

Hopefully the candidates in the upcoming Presidential election campaign will focus on these and other issues affecting employees rights.

About the Author: Paul H. Tobias is senior partner in the firm of Tobias, Kraus & Torchia in Cincinnati, Ohio where he now specializes exclusively in the rights of individual employees.  He has specialized in labor and employment law for 50 years. He is the author of 15 published articles and three book chapters in the field of labor and employment law; has taught a labor law seminar at the University of Cincinnati (1975-1977); and has made over 150 presentations to Bar Associations and other groups concerning employee rights.

Tobias is the founder of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA: Advocates for Employee Rights) and served as its first Executive Director, Chairman and Editor of the newsletter “The Employee Advocate.”  He is the Co-Founder and former Chair and Executive Director of the National Employee Rights Institute (NERI, now Workplace Fairness).  He is the author of a three volume work: “Litigating Wrongful Discharge Claims” (Callaghan/West 1987) and co-author of “Job Rights and Survival Strategies – A Handbook for Terminated Employees” (NERI 1997).  He has recently been the leader of groups of lawyers studying employment and labor law procedures and issues on five trips abroad to other countries. Tobias is on the Board of Governors of the National College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and is founder of the Ohio Chapter of the College.  He is a founder of the Senior Lawyers Division of the Cincinnati Bar Association. Tobias is a graduate of Harvard College (AB 1951) and Harvard Law School (LLB 1958).

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