Lawmakers in Michigan are still pushing a bill that would keep cities and towns from making their own decisions about paid sick days laws. We call them “preemption bills” – restaurant lobbyists and their allies call it the “kill shot” to paid sick days.
The bills in the House and Senate are ALEC model bills, inspired by none other than Wisconsin union-buster Gov. Scott Walker. Quick story: In early 2011, Walker pushed and passed a preemption law in Wisconsin, completely invalidating the will of Milwaukee voters who had just passed a sick days ordinance.
The restaurant lobby was so excited that they handed out copies of the bill to attendees of ALEC’s August 2011 meeting.
And, as if by magic, preemption bills have been introduced in Michigan, Mississippi, Washington, Arizona, Indiana, and Oklahoma. Such laws are already on the books in Wisconsin and Louisiana. Just this week, a preemption bill passed both houses of the Florida legislature. Textbook ALEC.
In Michigan, along with statewide mothers’ organization Mothering Justice, Working America delivered petitions signed by over 2,500 Michiganders to the Michigan Restaurant Association and the state legislature.
All workers deserve the opportunity to earn paid sick days, so that not another person has to make their choice between going to work sick and not making rent, or not being able to eat, or not being able to care for their child.
But even the threat of workers in a few cities and towns having this basic right has the restaurant lobby and ALEC running scared, using their politician pawns to introduce ridiculously undemocratic preemption bills that won’t create a single job. Since when did these “small-government” obsessives get into the business of telling cities and towns how to conduct their business?
Join us. Tell the Michigan legislature to stand with workers, mothers, and democracy – not ALEC and the restaurant lobby.
Tags: ALEC, Arizona, earned sick days, louisiana, Michigan, mississippi, Oklahoma, Paid Sick Days, restaurant, Rights At Work, Scott Walker, washington, Wisconsin
When someone tries to raise the minimum wage, improve our health care system, or generally try to fix anything, a chorus of conservative anti-worker bigwigs cries foul about big government intruding in their lives.
But when a state passes a law to preempt cities and towns from making their own decisions about allowing workers to earn sick days, those same voices are silent.
Case in point: Michigan.
Legislation recently approved by committees in the Republican-controlled House and Senate would prohibit counties, townships and cities from adopting policies that requires employers to provide paid or unpaid leave not required under federal or state law.
The bill is HB 4249 in the House, sponsored by Rep. Earl Poleski (R-Jackson), and SB 173 in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Mark Jansen (R-Grand Rapids). Both bills have been passed by their respective committees.
If you look closely at the bills, you’ll notice they are startlingly similar to bills introduced in Florida, Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Washington.
Why? You guessed it: it’s an ALEC model bill!
Not only is it an ALEC bill, it’s an ALEC bill inspired by Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who pushed and passed his own sick leave preemption bill in May 2011. It was one of his first acts as governor, and it overrode a sick leave ordinance that Milwaukee had passed overwhelmingly in 2008.
70 percent of Milwaukee voters want the policy? “Who cares?” says the preemption bill. It’s the very definition of big government intruding on local control that so many conservatives claim to hate.
PRWatch blogger Brendan Fischer describes what happened next:
Meeting attendees were given complete copies of Wisconsin’s 2011 Senate Bill 23 (now Wisconsin Act 16) as a model for state override. ALEC’s Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee at the time was co-chaired by YUM! Brands, Inc., which owns Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.
Legislators attending the Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee meeting were also handed a target list and map of state and local paid sick leave policies prepared by ALEC member the National Restaurant Association.
As one Republican operative put it, these bills “deliver the kills shot” to efforts to allow workers to earn sick days. In addition to Wisconsin, such laws are already on the books in Louisiana and Mississippi.
We’re fighting back in Michigan, where we’ve sent almost 18,000 messages to state lawmakers. Join us: Tell the Michigan legislature to stand with the people, not ALEC.
Tags: ALEC, Corporate Accountability, earned sick days, Michigan, Milwaukee, Paid Sick Days, Scott Walker, Wisconsin
We live in a crazy, ever-changing world, but some things don’t change.
It may be 2013, but Scott Walker is still a terrible governor, and Wisconsin is still suffering under his policies.
Even as new numbers showed the national unemployment rate slipping in February 2013, those same numbers showed Wisconsin heading in the completely wrong direction. Wisconsin is now ranked 44 out of 50 in job growth, and is being outpaced by all of its neighbors:
The new numbers, based on the most accurate current measures available, show Wisconsin with an estimated 2,790,000 non-farm positions as of January 2013 — up 44,600 jobs or 1.6 percent since January 2011 when Gov. Scott Walker took office.
By comparison, Indiana ranked No. 9 with a 3.8 percent job growth rate over the past two years; Minnesota was No. 10 with 3.7 percent growth; Michigan was No. 12 at 3.6 percent; Iowa was No. 24 at 2.9 percent and Illinois No. 30 at 2.3 percent job growth.
Overall unemployment in Wisconsin also rose in January 2013 from 6.7 to 7 percent (February data has not yet been released). The state gained 12,400 private-sector jobs by lost about 10,600 public sector jobs, with a net gain of only 1,800.
Gov. Walker promised during the 2010 campaign to create 250,000 new jobs during his first term. As of January 2013, there has been a net gain of 44,600 jobs, or less than 18 percent of that promise.
What’s worse is that Walker has walked away from Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which would allow many of Wisconsin’s 235,000 uninsured adults to afford health care. In addition to making a political point on the backs of Wisconsin’s uninsured, Walker also passed up the opportunity to create about 10,500 new health care jobs, and increase economic activity by $1.3 billion.
But no worries, everybody. Even with the sour jobs numbers and his signature union-busting achievement under legal assail, Gov. Walker is still thinking about his future as a possible presidential candidate.
To Walker, the glass is 18 percent full, not 18 percent empty.
Photo by keegstra on Flickr, via Creative Commons.
Tags: Health Care, Healthcare, Jobs, Medicaid, Scott Walker, Wisconsin
Did you think voter suppression would end on Election Day? Think again. The corporate-backed Republican-led war on our voting rights is still chugging.
None other than Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced on Monday that he would like to end the state’s same-day registration law:
Wisconsin is one of nine states that allow voters to register at their polling place on the day of the election, and that’s often credited with helping make Wisconsin’s voting rate one of the highest in the country. Since the Nov. 6 election, both Walker and incoming Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) have said they’re considering ending the practice, which goes back to 1976 in the state.
And what reason would Gov. Walker, who also pushed through a voter suppression ID law in 2010, have for ending the successful practice of same-day registration?
“States across the country that have same-day registration have real problems because the vast majority of their states have poll workers who are wonderful volunteers, who work 13-hour days and who in most cases are retirees,” Walker said at the library, responding to a question from an audience member about election safeguards. “It’s difficult for them to handle the volume of people who come at the last minute. It’d be much better if registration was done in advance of election day. It’d be easier for our clerks to handle that. All that needs to be done.”
So. Gov. Walker is saying that because he feels bad for the overworked poll workers many of whom are retirees, no one should be able to register to vote at the polls.
Excuse us for our disbelief that Gov. Walker supports this policy because he’s interested in helping workers. No state executive in the country, or even in recent memory, has been more committed to attacking workers’ rights and collective bargaining, not to mention the wages, benefits, and pensions of public employees.
Here’s the real reason Walker is seeking to end the 36-year practice: it helps people vote. Wisconsin has the third-highest turnout rate in the country: in part because of the state’s strong civic tradition, but also because same-day registration helps transient Wisconsinites (like students, young people, minorities, and low-income workers) exercise their rights. Two weeks ago, 48,000 voters took advantage of same-day registration in Milwaukee, helping boost turnout in that city to 87 percent.
If the 2012 election proved anything, pro-worker candidates succeed when more people turn out to vote. Walker knows this, so he has a consistent standard operating procedure when it comes to voting rights: restrict at all costs. Act 23, Walker’s voter ID law that was found unconstitutional in April, would have cost the state’s DMV an extra $6 million, despite his frequent protestations that the state is “broke.”
We have a better idea. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Chris Coons (D-DE) have introduced the FAST Voting Act in the Senate, which would provide states resources to address election reform. In the House, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) has introduced the SIMPLE Voting Act, which would require all states to institute 15 days of early voting, and ensure that each precinct sufficient poll workers.
Those policies would benefit the overworked poll workers Walker is pretending to care about. But his true agenda is and has always been restricting voting rights. He also doesn’t have a history of listening to ideas that are not his.
Photo by keegstra on Flickr, via Creative Commons.
Tags: Scott Walker, voting rights, Wisconsin
Reposted from the AFL-CIO NOW Blog
If you were building a bridge, would you hire a work crew with a few hours of metal shop on their résumés, or trained and certified Ironworkers? Would you go into surgery with someone who only has a CPR certificate, or a real doctor with a medical degree?
If you’re NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, or one of the 32 NFL team owners, you’d go with the newbie—at least it seems that way, given their decision to lock out professional NFL officials and instead use untrained, unprepared and in-over-their-heads replacement referees.
Just look at last night’s disaster in Seattle where, according to 99.9 percent of the football world and the videotape, the refs absolutely blew a last-second call that cost the Green Bay Packers a win over the Seahawks. The replacement refs threw 24 flags—some for nonexistent penalties—while missing obvious calls in a game they had no control over.
Ironically, the actions of the “Clueless in Seattle” replacement refs—most of their experience has been in small college, minor league or high school football—have spurred even notorious Wisconsin anti-union Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to call for the end to the lockout.
Of course, we all know that’s all about their love for the Packers rather than any respect for the workers or opposition to the NFL’s greedy attempt to eliminate the referees’ pensions by a league that makes $3 billion a year in television rights. AFT President Randi Weingarten tweets:
Glad the ref lockout showed @GovWalker
the importance of unions. Too bad teachers, nurses and public workers aren’t as important to him
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has called for an end to the lockout because it “continues to jeopardize player health and safety and the integrity of the game that has taken decades to build.”
Grantland’s Bill Barnwell writes that last night’s debacle is “only the second-worst thing that could happen under the replacement refs, though we’re seemingly on our way to the first.”
As bad as a would-be win becoming a loss is, the worst thing would be if a…player suffered a serious injury by virtue of referee incompetence. That’s already been broached a few times this year.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and the team’s NFLPA play rep tweeted this last night.
I love this league and love the game of football, but tonight’s debacle hurts me greatly. This is NOT the league we’re supposed to represent
Sports Illustrated senior football writer Peter King retweeted this after the game.
RT @SatansLollipop: After last night, only argument real refs need to make to Goodell is, “Do you want the Super Bowl to look like this?”
Tags: Paul Ryan, Rights At Work, Scott Walker, Wisconsin
All those items are manufactured by corporations that were members of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. But that ended today as five of America’s largest corporations announced they are cutting ties with ALEC.
Hewlett Packard, CVS Caremark, John Deere, MillerCoors, and BestBuy made the decision to end their association with the secretive organization as more of their political activities have come to light. ALEC, which produces “model bills” to promote corporate interests nationwide, was involved in the creation of Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB 1070, Scott Walker’s union-busting budget in Wisconsin, education privatization in Pennsylvania, and most infamously the Florida so-called “Stand Your Ground” gun law.
And those are just the tip of the iceberg. ALEC has operated nearly unchecked for almost 40 years. Its current membership includes hundreds of state legislators, and prominent alumni include dozens of members of Congress, from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to Vice Presidential-hopeful Senator Marco Rubio.
Whatever issue you care about, from health care and consumer protections to voting rights and the environment, ALEC has produced and passed a piece of legislation that impacts your life and your work – usually for the worse. And consumers aren’t standing for it anymore.
That’s why hundreds of thousands of citizens, led by advocacy groups like ColorofChange and others, have contacted legislators and corporations about their involvement with ALEC. As a result, 25 corporations, 4 non-profits, and 55 legislators have cut their ALEC ties.
“Over the last few weeks, we have closely followed the issues surrounding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and have heard from numerous stakeholders expressing their views,” wrote CVS Caremark Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Larry Burton in an email to ColorOfChange staff, “As a result, after careful consideration of the available information, CVS Caremark has discontinued its membership in ALEC.”
Despite these recent gains, ALEC membership still includes some of the world’s most powerful corporations, including Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Pfizer, State Farm, AT&T, and Altria (formerly Philip Morris). Legislators from every state in the country remain ALEC members and continue to push legislation developed specifically to advance corporate interests. But the more the public knows, the less they like about ALEC, and the less tolerance they have for its twisted vision of democracy.
Tags: ALEC, Corporate Accountability, Scott Walker
Since he took office, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has tried to break worker solidarity. In fact, the bill that started it all, the union-busting Act 10, sought to peel off public safety workers from other public employees by exempting police and firefighters from the collective bargaining restrictions.
Of course, we now know that this was a deliberate move on Walker’s part. In a now infamous video, Walker described his plan to “divide and conquer” Wisconsin workers to one of his billionaire backers, Diane Hendricks. Not only was he trying to divide public safety and other public employees, he was trying to slice and dice all working people to further erode our collective bargaining rights, wages, benefits, and opportunities for legal recourse.
The problem for Mr. Walker? We noticed, and not just in Wisconsin. The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) has formally endorsed Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in his recall bid against Gov. Walker:
“Scott Walker’s divisive tactics and his drastic cuts to public safety funding will make Wisconsin’s communities and the officers that police them less safe,” claimed NAPO President Thomas Nee in a Barrett campaign statement.
“Tom Barrett will bring people together to ensure that Wisconsin stays a safe place in which to live, work, and raise family.”
As our Working America members in Wisconsin have told us, one of the biggest moments of the 2011 protests was when police and firefighters joined in solidarity with the marches in Madison, even though the union-busting bill would not have included them. It was a signal that even in this day and age, we still believe in solidarity: that an attack on one is an attack on all.
NAPO’s endorsement is also a recognition that the ramifications of the Wisconsin recall don’t end at the state border. Law enforcement officials nationwide are beginning to question why the Republicans they have traditionally supported are now attacking their rights, wages, and benefits (just ask Ohioans, who smacked down Gov. John Kasich’s attempt to cut collective bargaining for Ohio police and firefighters in a double-digit referendum last November).
As the Republican Party moves closer to a complete subsidiary of their corporate sponsors, the folks that patrol our streets and protect our communities are moving to support their brethren – across state borders and nationwide.
Tags: Scott Walker, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Recall
The actions of Governor Scott Walker and his allies in the legislature have made existing political divisions in Wisconsin even more acute; we don’t expect the polarization to be alleviated any time soon as the May 8 and June 5 recall elections approach.
Part of the debate, and indeed part of the Republican strategy, is to question the validity of holding a recall election in the first place. Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman Stephan Thompson referred to the recalls as “baseless,” and that the elections are being “forced” upon the state.
In using this language, Thompson, Walker, and their colleagues clearly haven’t heard the voices of Wisconsinites. Let’s look at the facts: Eighteen states allow for the recalls of public officials. Of those states, Wisconsin has one of the highest thresholds for triggering a recall. In the case of the last successful gubernatorial recall, California in 2003, those recalling Gov. Gray Davis had 160 days to gather signatures from 12 percent of those who voted for governor in the previous election.
In Wisconsin over this past year organizers, had to gather signatures from 25 percent of the votes cast for Walker in 2010 in only 60 days. That number was about 540,000 – and Wisconsinites gathered over 930,000.
Truthfully, the recall mechanism is intended for emergencies, and Wisconsin has deemed Scott Walker an emergency.
Still, the opposition messaging has broken through with some. Last week, the Racine Journal Times published a letter from resident Marian Andersen. “The recall is a travesty on democracy,” Andersen wrote. Andersen went on to claim that the push for the recall is by “state employees” – which begs the question of where the other 700,000 plus signatures came from.
Working America member Pam Simpson saw Andersen’s letter and decided to respond. The next day, the Journal Times published Simpson’s letter, titled “Walker is in it only for himself.”
Walker is in it only for himself
I am writing in response to a letter to the editor from Marian Andersen published on Sunday. In that letter, Marian states that “the recall is a travesty on democracy.” In running for governor of our state, Scott Walker lied, withheld information and misled many individuals. He was and is in it for himself — to follow the Koch brothers’ orders and work for ALEC. A recall is a perfect example of democracy in action.
He has brought “dirty” politics into our state. Among the damage is the harming of our children’s education. He has attempted to redirect money meant for other things to cover up his lie of a “balanced budget” — attempting to obtain money meant for health care for low-income families and for homeowners who had faced foreclosure. He was only stopped because the federal government forced him to. A recall is certainly appropriate here.
He has undermined collective bargaining; he has turned back the clock on equal pay for women, etc. He is not fighting for us; he is fighting for big business and for the Koch brothers. He talks about buses of people being brought into the state — “union thugs” as he likes to call them. But he has to go all over the country looking for money to help defend himself in his legal battles — those who are very close to him being under investigation.
I am counting on the recall to be successful so we can get back to normal Wisconsin politics.
Like many of her friends and neighbors, Pam Simpson sees the Walker agenda for what it is. Walker’s campaign rhetoric of jobs and more restrained government never materialized; instead, the Governor and his allies have devoted their time to a radical, anti-worker agenda with the singular goal of gaining and maintaining power for both himself and his corporate backers.
Yes, recall elections are for emergencies only – that’s why it’s so hard to trigger one. And with over 930,000 signatures in hand, Wisconsin is well within its rights to pull the fire alarm.
Photo by Matt Baran on Flickr, via Creative Commons
Tags: Scott Walker, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Recall
The rollercoaster of the Wisconsin recall process continued Thursday when the schedule set by Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan confirmed that the state’s voter suppression law will not be in effect for the June 5 recall elections.
A review of the crazy timeline: The law, known as Act 23, had legal trouble from the start. Lawsuits from the civil rights groups NAACP and Voces de la Frontera resulted in a temporary injunction by Judge Flanagan, while a separate lawsuit resulted in a permanent injunction against the law by another Dane County Judge, Richard Niess.
That meant the law was not enforced for the April 3 municipal elections, but the big question was still whether or not the vote would be suppressed in the crucial May 8 primary and historic June 5 recall. Would the Supreme Court make the final call? Nope – Act 23 was bounced back to the circuit courts after the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to take up the case last week. (Whew. Now we’re dizzy.)
Flanagan has temporarily blocked the law from taking effect while he considers both arguments. A four-day trial wrapped up Thursday afternoon after Flanagan said he didn’t need to hear oral arguments. Flanagan, who will issue the verdict in the case, said he wants final positions outlined in briefs. He set a June 18 due date for the last set of filings.
This is good news for the thousands of Wisconsinites – including 177,000 Wisconsin seniors and nearly half of Wisconsin’s African-American and Hispanic citizens who don’t have photo ID – who would have been effectively barred from voting in the June election by Act 23. (Not to mention for those folks who wanted to get ID before election day, 26 percent of Wisconsin DMV’s are open one month a day or less, only one DMV has weekend hours, and Gov. Walker tried his best to close 10 DMV’s in heavily Democratic areas.)
It’s not great news for Gov. Walker and his Administration. His policies have been overwhelmingly harmful to Wisconsin working families, particularly students (cuts to higher education), seniors (cuts to Badgercare), and working class folks (cutting the state earned income tax credit, effectively a tax increase on the poor). Therefore, it’s in his interest that fewer of these voters are able to exercise their rights at the polls.
So we were less than surprised to see Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, well-rested after not helping victims of foreclosure fraud, acting very “concerned” about the validity of the June elections:
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says he is very concerned about voter fraud as six recall elections near, including one targeting fellow Republican, Gov. Scott Walker.
Again, Walker and his team are concerned about some things: keeping people from voting, tax breaks for big businesses, and the latest out-of-state fundraiser. They are much less concerned, judging by the policies they advocate, with the ability of anyone in Wisconsin to find work, go to school, save for retirement, or pay their medical bills. But hopefully, they’ll be in the private sector soon, where they won’t have to worry about anyone but themselves.
Tags: Scott Walker, voting rights, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Recall
In Wisconsin, the state General Accountability Board (GAB) voted unanimously to allow six “fake Democrats” on the May 8 primary ballot.
The election board’s decision came in response to a legal challenge from the Wisconsin Democratic Party and We Are Wisconsin. Jeremy Levinson, the attorney who brought the case, said that the six candidates “knowingly filed false information” by running as Democrats when they were nothing but. “The First Amendment does not require the government to ignore an admitted lie,” he said, “and that is what we have here.”
The six candidates, four for state senate and one for Governor and Lt. Governor, are admitted Republicans who are running the Democratic primary in an attempt to drain resources and allow the incumbents – the recall targets – more time to raise funds. The exact same tactic was used in the State Senate recalls in August 2011.
All this is being done with the full blessing of the Wisconsin Republican Party. State party spokesman Stephan Thompson said: “In an effort to ensure election fairness, the Republican Party has recruited protest candidates to run in all of the upcoming recall elections.”
(Thompson also dutifully repeated the untrue Scott Walker talking points that the “Democrats and union bosses are the ones who decided to force these baseless recalls on our state.” Thompson was sure to brush over the fact that it was actually over a million Wisconsin citizens – union, non-union, Democrat, Republican, and Independent alike – who signed petitions to trigger recall elections against Gov. Walker and his anti-worker allies.)
The problem, again, is that elections, even elections you call “fake” or “baseless,” are not free. The “fake Democrat” gambit comes at a time where Wisconsin’s cities and towns need every penny they can get their hands on for education and basic services. And yet, last year this Republican tactic costs cities and towns an extra $500,000 to administer the extra elections.
Maybe you can make the argument that Gov. Walker can’t control everything the state Republican Party does (although Walker has been silent on this particular issue). But even Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), a recall target himself, remarked to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Republican voters could vote in the Democratic primaries in order to trip up his opponents for the June 5 general. “There’s nothing to keep the Republicans from messing around,” Fitzgerald said.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Gov. Walker, Sen. Fitzgerald, and the whole gang cared even half as much about creating jobs as they did about monkeying with state elections? But jobs, education, basic services, town and city budgets, voting rights – these aren’t issues that have much concerned Walker and Co. for the past two years. We shouldn’t expect them to start now. But hopefully, before too long, they’ll have the opportunity to take their negligence and callousness to the private sector.
Photo by ra_hurd on Flickr, via Creative Commons.
Tags: Scott Fitzgerald, Scott Walker, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Recall