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The Center for Media and Democracy publishes this wiki, SourceWatch.

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Lisa Graves, Executive Director

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Featured Work

According to Scott Walker, This Is What a Terrorist Looks Like

by Brendan Fischer

Union thug200px.jpg
One of the most remarkable things about the 2011 Wisconsin uprising was how a protest so massive and so sustained managed to be entirely peaceful. Thousands of people occupied the capital building, around the clock, for two weeks straight, without incident. For months, as many as 100,000 people at a time marched around the statehouse, and exercised their right to free speech and assembly--without arrests or violence.

There was a spirit of camaraderie during those heady times. Young children held handmade signs supporting their teachers, and handed out home-baked cookies to protesters. Grandmothers, teachers, nurses, veterans, and students bundled up against the cold Wisconsin winter and raised their voices against anti-union legislation and cuts to education. Supporters from around the world phoned-in orders to Ian's Pizza to feed hungry protesters.

So when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said that his experience with the protests prepared him for the fight against the murderous militants known as ISIS, jaws across Wisconsin hit the floor.

Read the rest of this item here.


Surprise! ALEC Scholar Says ALEC Right to Work Will Boost WI Economy

by Brendan Fischer

Richard Vedder
Stop the presses! An American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) “scholar,” Richard Vedder, says that Wisconsin’s proposed right-to-work law--which is lifted word-for-word from ALEC model legislation--will be great for Wisconsin.

Yet economist Gordon Lafer, an Associate Professor at the University of Oregon, tells the Center for Media and Democracy that Vedder’s new report for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute “is either incompetent or intentionally misleading.”

Vedder is an ALEC “scholar” and the 2008 recipient of the ALEC “Adam Smith Award.” Vedder said receiving the ALEC award was “one of the highlights of my professional life.” The group that commissioned Vedder's study, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, is a Wisconsin affiliate of the State Policy Network, a network of state-based, right-wing think tanks that are often drivers of the ALEC agenda within states. Vedder has written nearly identical right-to-work reports for State Policy Network affiliates in Minnesota and Ohio. (Read more about the State Policy Network in CMD's exclusive report on the group and at this website CMD helped create.)

Read the rest of this item here.


Koch-Funded Americans for Prosperity Launches Right-to-Work Ad Buy

by Jessica Mason

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The Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity announced a major statewide ad buy to defend proposed Right-to-Work legislation in Wisconsin. The ad, which repeats the inaccurate claim that workers can be forced to join unions under current law, will run online and on the radio and urges people to contact their legislators in support of the bill.

The ad buy comes as no surprise given that the Koch network, including AFP, has poured millions of dollars into Wisconsin to support the right-wing campaign against unions. AFP spent at least $10 million defending Scott Walker in the 2012 recall election sparked by Act 10, which denied collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers. The Executive Director of the Republican Governors Association was even caught on tape bragging that AFP was a "tremendous partner" during the recall. The RGA itself received $1 million from David Koch in 2010, and the Koch PAC gave Walker's campaign $43,000 that year, the maximum amount allowed under state law.

Read the rest of this item here.


“Death by a Thousand Cuts” and ALEC’s Local Strategy for Attacking Unions

by Brendan Fischer

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The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) made headlines last week after Wisconsin Republicans introduced a virtually word-for-word copy of the ALEC “model” Right to Work Act, following on the heels of Michigan and other states that have taken up the ALEC-inspired anti-union measures in recent years.

But ALEC and its allies have also been pushing a new and unprecedented approach to defunding unions on a city-by-city basis through an ALEC offshoot, the American City County Exchange (ACCE). Since ACCE’s most recent meeting in December, so-called right to work laws on the local level have been enacted in several Kentucky counties, and discussed in other states such as Illinois and Ohio.

The ultimate goal, according to speakers at the ACCE conference within the corporate-funded ALEC conference, is to defund labor unions, which are one of the few counterweights to corporate political influence.

Read the rest of this item here.


Undercover at ACCE: ALEC Offshoot Spins City and County Officials on Dirty Energy, Local Control

by PR Watch Admin

Alderman Steve Arnold
-- By Steve Arnold, an alderman from Fitchburg, Wisconsin

In December, I attended the winter “policy summit” of the American City County Exchange (ACCE), a new venture of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). I’m a progressive, local elected official, focused on protecting and empowering every resident of my small (pop. 25,000) city of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, through things like better zoning laws, more transit service, and more inclusive public discussion. ALEC is a bill mill that advances the legislative initiatives of its corporate sponsors in state houses across the country, and now, perhaps in city halls and county court houses.

So the trip was an effort to “know thy enemy.”

Read the rest of this item here.


Walmart Wages in Perspective

by Jody Knauss and Mary Bottari

Walmart exterior200px.jpg
To much fanfare, Walmart has announced a program to raise wages for its lowest paid workers.

In a “Letter to Associates” (later released as a blogpost under the tag “Opportunity”), Walmart CEO Doug McMillon announced a plan to raise wages to at least $9 per hour for all Walmart workers starting in April. Next February, workers currently on the company’s payroll (and thus with at least a year of seniority, though it is doubtful Walmart would ever use that word) will earn a minimum of $10 per hour.

Combined with wage increases at other company “pay bands,” Wal-Mart calculates the changes will increase wages for half-a-million people in its U.S. workforce of 1.3 million.

The announcement was greeted with applause in some quarters, panic in others.

Read the rest of this item here.


Recent Articles from PRWatch.org

ACCE Wants Your Town to Subsidize ALEC-Style Corporate Lobbying

by Jessica Mason

As the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has reported previously, the American City County Exchange (ACCE) was formed in 2014 as a local government version of the state legislature-focused American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The new group's structure mimics its parent organization, with corporate lobbyists paying between $10,000 and $25,000 to sit side-by-side with city and county elected officials and vote on legislation that all too frequently benefits ALEC's corporate members.

Early reports suggest that ACCE's agenda is a familiar one: introducing local "right-to-work" bills that undermine collective bargaining, blocking local minimum wage campaigns, and privatizing government services to benefit for-profit corporations.

Read the rest of this item here.


Trade Groups Launch Campaign to Attack NLRB and Keep Wages Low

by Jody Knauss

Opening a new front in the multi-pronged corporate attack on working people, two spectacularly misnamed public relations and lobbying campaigns have recently appeared on the scene in Washington, DC, this time taking aim at the relatively low-profile National Labor Relations Board.

January witnessed the arrival of the web and print campaign, DefendMainStreet.com. And appearing just last week was the Coalition to Save Local Businesses, complete with a large board of attractive small business people.

Why are these groups revving up now and what is their goal?

Read the rest of this item here.


Bruce Rauner Inaugurates War on Working Families

by Jody Knauss

Billionaire financier and new Republican Illinois Governor, Bruce Rauner, who already raised eyebrows by calling for lowering the state’s minimum wage during his campaign, continued his war on working families this week with a move straight out of the ALEC playbook.

On February 9, the governor issued an executive order barring Illinois public-sector unions from requiring “fair share” payments from workers who choose not to join the union but still benefit from union-negotiated wages, benefits, and worker protections on the job.

Outlawing public and private-sector fair share payments is part of the anti-worker, anti-family agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council and its corporate backers including Koch Industries.

Read the rest of this item here.


ACCE Wants Your Town to Subsidize ALEC-Style Corporate Lobbying

by Jessica Mason

As the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has reported previously, the American City County Exchange (ACCE) was formed in 2014 as a local government version of the state legislature-focused American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The new group's structure mimics its parent organization, with corporate lobbyists paying between $10,000 and $25,000 to sit side-by-side with city and county elected officials and vote on legislation that all too frequently benefits ALEC's corporate members.

Early reports suggest that ACCE's agenda is a familiar one: introducing local "right-to-work" bills that undermine collective bargaining, blocking local minimum wage campaigns, and privatizing government services to benefit for-profit corporations.

Read the rest of this item here.


Editors' Pick

Koch-Funded Allies Descend on Wisconsin to Push Right to Work

by Mary Bottari

RTW-ALEC-hurt-middle-class200px.jpg
The Wisconsin Senate held a hearing of sorts on the GOP proposal to make Wisconsin a "right to work" state.

The bill pushed by Wisconsin Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) bears a striking similarity to the American Legislative Exchange Council "model" bill of the same name (see CMD's side-by-side comparison here). In his opening statement, Sen. Fitzgerald claimed that right to work legislation would "protect every worker" from being forced to join a union. He added that the legislation would save families from being uprooted by having to find non-union employers elsewhere. He presented no data or even anecdotal evidence to support these claims.

The argument that the bill would protect workers from "forced" unionization is a red herring. The U.S. Supreme Court has long stated that nobody can be forced to join a union, or be forced to pay unions dues, or to have their dues go to political campaigns. What current federal and Wisconsin law allows, and what the right to work law would make illegal, are "fair share" agreements and fees in union contracts that make all represented workers, including those choosing not to join the union, contribute to the costs of worker representation on the job.

Read the rest of this item here.


Grim-Faced Union Leaders Ready for the Fight Over Right to Work

by Mary Bottari

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Wisconsin state legislators will meet in an "extraordinary session" today in order to take up so-called "right to work" legislation, a bill straight from the American Legislative Exchange Council playbook.

"This is something that once again could jump-start the state's economy," Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said on Friday, but the explanation does not pass the laugh test.

Governor Walker's Act 10 legislation and draconian budget bill from 2011--which eviscerated public-sector unions, slashed spending on public programs and lavished tax breaks on corporations--was also supposed to "jump start" the economy. Walker's bill to "reform" the tort system by preventing consumers from suing corporations that cause injury or death was supposed to unleash the economy. And businesses were supposed to flood back into the state after the 2012 recall election, said Walker. But Wisconsin is still waiting, languishing number 33 out of 50 states in new job creation, the worst performance in the Upper Midwest.

Read the rest of this item here.


CMD Issues Report on Latest Assault on Clean Election Laws

Five Years After Citizens United

A bipartisan effort to enforce Wisconsin’s longstanding laws governing coordination between campaigns and independent groups has been mislabeled a “partisan witch hunt” by a well-funded legal and media campaign, with the ultimate goal of undermining what remains of limits on big money in politics, according to a new report from the Center for Media and Democracy.

“Anti-coordination laws have become more vital than ever before in the post-Citizens United world, where ‘independent’ political organizations are raising and spending unlimited funds for elections but keeping their donors a secret,” said Brendan Fischer, CMD General Counsel and the author of the report. “If a candidate can coordinate with these secretly-funded groups and establish shadow campaign committees, then the candidate contribution limits and disclosure requirements are rendered meaningless.”

And that, it seems, is precisely the goal.

Read the rest of this item here. Read the report here.


Follow the Money! Koch Wiki Resource

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The Center for Media and Democracy, publisher of ALEC Exposed, brings you this unique wiki resource on the billionaire industrialists and the power and influence of the Koch cadre and Koch cash.

Read about Koch Funding Vehicles:

Visit Koch Exposed for more.


Featured SourceWatch Article

SourceWatch.org is an interactive wiki website that depends on readers like you to improve content. If you want to help us grow SourceWatch with well documented research and become a volunteer editor, click here for more information.


Walmart Raises Wages this Week, Check the Spin on Sourcewatch

Walmart announced this week it was raising the wage of 500,000 employees to $9 an hour. But the average wage at Walmart is $9 an hour. The real question is, can you raise a family on that?

From SourceWatch:

Jim, Alice and Rob Walton(L-R)
Walmart had 10,994 stores around the world in 2014, including more than 4,800 stores in the U.S.[1] According to Forbes, it is the world's largest retailer [2] and the world's largest corporation in revenue, says Fortune.[3] According to the Journal of Commerce, Walmart was the largest importer of goods to the United States in 2013,[4] contributing significantly to the U.S. national trade deficit.

Estimates of the average hourly wage for Walmart associates vary, but several independent sources put it under $9.00 per hour. An independent study found that the average Walmart associate made just $8.81 per hour[5] and a July 2014 report found that Walmart cashiers average $8.48/hour.[6] An April 2014 study by Americans for Tax Fairness estimated that subsidies and tax breaks for Walmart and the Walton family that owns the operation cost taxpayers $7.8 billion per year, including approximately $6.2 billion in assistance to Walmart workers due to low wages and benefits.[7]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on Walmart here.

References

  1. Walmart Stores, "Walmart Unit Counts by Country" Accessed July 22, 2014.
  2. Forbes, "Global 2000: The World's Largest Retailers of 2014", Accessed July 22, 2014.
  3. Fortune Magazine, "Global 500: 2014", accessed July 22, 2014.
  4. Marsha Salisbury, “Top 100 US Importers in 2013,” Journal of Commerce, May 23, 2014.
  5. Courtney Gross, “Is Wal-Mart Worse?,” Gotham Gazette, February 14, 2011
  6. Shelly Banjo, "Pay at Walmart: Low at the Check-out but High in the Manager's Office" Wall Street Journal, July 23, 2014.
  7. Americans for Tax Fairness, "Walmart on Tax Day: How Taxpayers Subsidize America's Biggest Employer and Richest Family" Americans for Tax Fairness website, April 2014.




Featured Video

On 5th Anniversary of Citizens United, GOP Taps Koch Brothers-Backed Senator to Give SOTU Response

On 5th Anniversary of Citizens United, GOP Taps Koch Brothers-Backed Senator to Give SOTU Response


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