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Worker Rights and Consumer Rights

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Limiting Worker and Consumer Rights, Privatizing Government Services, and Pushing "Free" Trade

Worker Rights, Consumer Rights, Trade, Pensions, and Privatization
Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians are voting behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws. Bills on this page limit workers rights and drain labor unions of resources for protecting employees, undermine consumer protections, favor the Wall Street financial agenda, limit the ability to cap exorbitant interest rates on credit cards and big bank fees. The bills and resolutions here 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. Through ALEC, corporations have both a VOICE and a VOTE on specific state laws to change worker and consumer rights through these model bills. Do you?

READ the "Model Bills" HERE

Joel Rogers on ALEC & Worker Rights

Watch Joel Rogers, professor of law, political science, public affairs, and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Director of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, discuss ALEC and the corporate efforts to undermine worker rights.

Watch other ALEC Exposed experts here.
Read Joel Rogers' and Laura Dresser's article in The Nation here.

How YOU Can Expose ALEC & Share What You Learn

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SPREAD THE WORD. Share information about ALEC through Facebook, e-mail and Twitter. Concerned groups and people in every state need this to investigate how ALEC corporations are rewriting laws for their own advantage. And, please join the conversation on Facebook!
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EXPOSE ALEC LEGISLATORS. Demand the truth about which politicians in your state are in ALEC. Uncover whether YOUR tax dollars are paying ALEC "dues." Expose politicians who accept “scholarships” from ALEC's corporate-funded coffers for fancy trips.
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EXPOSE ALEC'S ROLE IN YOUR STATE HOUSE. Read these corporate-backed "model bills" NOW and cross-check them with bills in your state legislature. Ask your local media to report on what you have found and write your local newspaper.
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SHARE YOUR DISCOVERIES. Tell us what you uncovered! Tweet what you learn with the hashtag #ALECexposed, join a discussion on this site or email us a confidential tip via editor AT ALECexposed.org. And, follow our tweets on Twitter!
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Learn MORE about the "Model Bills" ALEC Corporations Are Backing to Rewrite YOUR Rights

The Center for Media and Democracy analyzed the bills ALEC politicians and corporations voted for. More analysis is available below and also at ALEC Exposed's sister sites, PRWatch and SourceWatch.

How do these bills attack working people?

Through this "model legislation," corporations are eroding the rights of workers. These bills:

  • Push international agreements that undermine the opportunities of American workers by:
    • Favoring so-called "free trade" agreements that ship good-paying American jobs overseas to developing nations that pay workers subsistence wages. See the list here.


To see a full list of these bills, click here.


Union-Busting in Wisconsin

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Wisconsin Governor and ALEC alumni Scott Walker took a cue from ALEC's corporate wish list and introduced a radical bill in February, 2011 to cripple public employee unions. Wisconsin Act 10 inspired months of protests and has been subjected to a series of legal challenges. There is no ALEC bill that exactly mirrors Walker's proposal, but the Wisconsin bill does comport with ALEC's sweeping anti-union agenda, which includes decades of support for "Right to Work", Paycheck Protection" legislation and other measures to disempower and defund unions. On collective bargaining, ALEC's "Public Employee Freedom Act" declares that "an employee should be able to contract on their own terms" and "mandatory collective bargaining laws violate this freedom." This ALEC bill, and the "Public Employer Payroll Deduction Act", prohibit automatic payroll deductions for union dues, a key aspect of the Walker bill.


Have any of these bills been introduced or enacted in YOUR state?

Helpful Resources

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Additional resources on ALEC's corporate agenda:

In what ways do these bills undermine consumer rights?

These bills restrict the rights of consumers in favor of the big banks, predatory lenders, and others by:


To see a full list of these bills, click here.


Did You Know about these Bills?

Telecom Deregulation in Wisconsin

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Bruce Kushnick, writing for Nieman Watchdog in 2008 (part of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University), identified several Wisconsin "telecom" bills inspired by ALEC model legislation:
  • The Broadband Deployment Act of 2003, which frees the telecom industry from oversight, resembled the ALEC Broadband and Telecommunications Deployment Act. The bill was introduced by Sen. Ted Kanavas (R) & soon-to-be-discredited Rep. Scott Jensen (R).
  • A Municipal Broadband bill from 2004 blocked municipalities from competing with corporate providers of broadband services, and resembles the ALEC Municipal Telecommunications Private Industry Safeguards Act. Co-sponsored by Sen. Kanavas (R) & Rep. Phil Montgomery (R), who was given an ALEC "legislator of the year" award in 2005.
  • The Video Competition Act, eliminating municipal cable franchises and freeing companies from their previously-negotiated contracts, looks like the ALEC Cable and Video Competition Act. It was co-sponsored in 2007 by Rep. Montgomery (R) & Sen. Jeff Plale (R) and passed the legislature, but the most anti-consumer provisions were vetoed by former Governor Jim Doyle (D).
  • A 2007 Telephone Deregulation Bill, ending public oversight and regulations in Wisconsin for telephone services, looks like the ALEC Advanced Voice Services Availability Act of 2007. It was co-sponsored by Rep. Montgomery & Rep. Plale.

Authorizing "Car Title Pledges" for Predatory Lenders

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One model bill approved by ALEC corporations would authorize a form of short-term lending that many states have recognized as unfair and predatory to low-income consumers. Specifically, it advances the interest of lending companies in giving short-term, 30-day renewable loans backed by a borrower's car title, loans that usually have high interest rates, which are very difficult for people in tough financial circumstances to keep up with.

Consumer groups have opposed this type of lending not only because the high interest rates and short-term repayment period can trap consumers in a cycle of debt, but also because they risk losing their cars, which they often need to get to work. The bill also provides few consumer protections, for example failing to include a private right of action with strong remedies, and requiring that all claims be brought within one year. This provides little deterrence for predatory lenders, and because the budgets of regulatory agencies are limited, the state cannot adequately protect against abuses.

The Consumer Federation of America, USPIRG, and the Center for Responsible Lending sent a letter to ALEC opposing "car title pledges" in November 2005, enumerating many examples of predatory title lending, and also pointing out the distorting influence of campaign contributors from this sector of sound public policy. Bills like this have become law in Mississippi, Tennessee, and elsewhere. The ban on this type of predatory lending was also rolled back in Wisconsin after ALEC alumni Scott Walker became governor in 2011.

Have any of these bills been introduced or enacted in YOUR state?

ALEC Exposed is a project of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). CMD does NOT accept donations from for-profit corporations or government agencies. More information about CMD is available here. You can reach CMD's Executive Director, Lisa Graves, via editor AT ALECexposed.org. Privacy policy: Other than material you post to this wiki in your name, our privacy policy is that we will not disclose private personally identifiable information or data about you, such as your name, email address, or other information, unless required by law. On copyright: ALEC Exposed considers contributions to this wiki to be released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License or in accordance with law. Information on how to provide us with notice regarding copyright is available at this link. Notices regarding copyright or other matters should be sent to our designated agent, Lisa Graves, via email (editor AT ALECexposed.org).