Living Wage Preemption Act

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

The governors of many states are boldly stepping forward these days to stop grassroots democracy.

Yes, noting that local citizens and officials have been passing local laws to govern themselves, a flock of right-wing governors are asserting an autocratic power called “state preemption” to overrule democratic decisions made by locals. Why do these governors hate democracy? Because their corporate funders don’t like some of the laws local people support – so democracy must go! This is not a matter of a rogue governor here or there, but a coordinated effort by corporate interests to get governors to usurp local authority.

The main coordinator of this power grab is ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. For example, in 2014, when Fight for 15, and other activist groups began winning city campaigns for minimum wage hikes, ALEC responded by holding a corporate forum on how state officials can stop such local actions. ALEC circulated a model bill called the “Living Wage Preemption Act,” and sure enough, it’s already been passed by nearly half of our states.

Ohio was the latest. By a large margin, people in the Buckeye State favor raising the wage floor, and Cleveland enacted its own increase last year. But a small group of corporate profiteers howled in fury. So, last December, the state’s Republican leaders rushed to appease them by adopting the ALEC preemption bill and ramming it into law. It was a political mugging of the people’s will, retroactively negating Cleveland’s increase and outlawing increases by any other locality.

Used sparingly and properly, preemption can be a democracy-enhancing tool to serve the common good. But when governors pervert this power to use it as a cudgel against the people, We the People must rise up against the governors. To learn more visit MayorsInnovation.org.

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Reposted from The Hightower Lowdown.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top. He publishes a populist political newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.” He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Jim Hightower

Union Matters

Supreme Court Case Threatens Workers’ Rights to Stand Up for Themselves

By Courtney Shaffer
Intern, USW Communications

The Supreme Court began its fall term with a case that could have a big impact on the ways workers can hold their employers legally accountable, potentially limiting their rights to file collective suits against employers who have committed crimes like discrimination or wage theft.

Currently some 10 million Americans, more than half of private-sector non-union workers, have been required to sign class action waivers as a condition of employment, agreements that force workers into individual arbitration rather than collective suits, should one choose to sue their company for any reason. The Supreme Court, which began hearing testimony this month, will determine if these mandates are legal.

Employers love arbitration because it heavily favors them. They can divide workers, even when their experiences are similar, and they can bury systematic exploitation, forcing each worker to hire his or her own lawyer and make his or her individual case behind closed doors.  

For example, the current Supreme Court case, National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil, began when Murphy Oil routinely failed to compensate employees who worked before and after their scheduled shifts. After realizing they could not collectively sue Murphy Oil for stealing their overtime pay, the workers’ only option was to file claims individually in arbitration hearings.

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America Needs Fairer Taxes

America Needs Fairer Taxes