Portal:Wage Crushers

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Wage Crushers Portal

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Three-quarters of all U.S. jobs will require a high school education or less by 2022, according to estimates by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly all of those jobs will be low-wage service industry jobs. Campaigns to raise the wage, expand access to paid sick days, and organize workers to advocate for better working conditions are gaining momentum across the country. But the "wage crushers" are doubling down in their efforts to hold down wages and disempower working people.

In this online resource, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD, the publisher of the award-winning ALEC Exposed investigation) tracks and unmasks the "wage crushers": the corporations, trade associations, "think tanks," and front groups lobbying hard against better wages, benefits, and job standards for workers, with help from ALEC and its spin-off group ACCE.



Through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its local government offshoot the American City County Exchange (ACCE), lobbyists and politicians vote behind closed doors on 'model bills' that benefit the corporate bottom line. They are then introduced in state houses and city halls, stripped of their true origins. More than 100 major corporations have stopped funding ALEC due to controversy over its extreme agenda which includes, anti-worker bills, voter suppression bills and climate change denial.

A plethora of ALEC bills crush wages, limit workers' rights, and privatize key government services. Some of the wage-crushing "model bills" pushed through ALEC include:

For a full list of ALEC bills affecting worker rights, click here.

Visit ALEC Exposed, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, for more information about ALEC and ACCE.


Front Groups

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

Rick Berman
Front groups, phony think tanks, and attack-dog websites are popular tools for the wage crushers. Front groups create the appearance of grassroots support that is in fact engineered by lobbyists and PR flacks. The most notorious generator of front groups is Richard Berman, President of the PR firm Berman & Co..

Dubbed "Dr. Evil" by 60 Minutes, Berman props up phony "think tanks" like the Employment Policies Institute -- which is operated out of his office -- and misleading websites like MinimumWage.com. Plus he develops endless attack-dog websites like ROCexposed.org, which attacks restaurant workers standing up for higher wages.


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Tactics and Trends

Wage crushers use a wide range of tactics that combine to limit wages and benefits, reduce corporate accountability, and disempower workers.

  • Preemption: Preemption is a strategy used by corporate lobby groups and special interests to block and override local laws such as requirements for paid sick days. When special interests learn that the people of a local community are planning to pass a certain law they disagree with, or when such a law has already been passed, they lobby the state legislature to pass a state law prohibiting the local community from passing their own local ordinance. See the SourceWatch article on preemption for more.
  • Litigation: Another strategy is litigation. The IFA sued the City of Seattle over its $15 minimum wage law in July 2014, and the ALEC-affiliated hotel trade groups AH&LA and AAHOA filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles in December 2014 to block an ordinance raising wages for hotel employees.
  • Wage Theft: Wage theft, which is estimated to affect up to two thirds of low-wage workers, refers to any failure to pay workers what they are owed. Forms of wage theft include withholding paychecks, paying less than the minimum wage, making illegal paycheck deductions, and misclassifying workers as "independent contractors" when they're really employees. It likely costs workers and taxpayers billions of dollars each year, and even Silicon Valley software engineers aren't immune.
  • Right to Work: So-called "right to work" policies undermine unions by preventing them from negotiating contract provisions that require all workers, including non-members, to contribute to the costs of worker representation on the job. "Right to work" encourages workers to "free ride," gaining all the advantages of the union contract without paying a share of the costs of collective bargaining and worker representation. Workers in "right to work" states on average make $1,500 less and are less likely to have health and pension benefits compared to their counterparts in other states. Groups like ALEC and the National Restaurant Association have been pushing "right to work" bills at the state level for decades, and ALEC's local offshoot, ACCE, is now trying to push similar laws at the city and county level.
  • Temporary Employment Agencies: Almost one-fifth of job growth in the U.S. since 2009 has been in the "temporary" labor sector, and staffing companies like Adecco and Manpower are now some of the biggest employers in the United States. Companies turn to temp. labor for "flexibility" -- being able to hire and fire workers with no warning -- and to save on labor costs by avoiding paying for unemployment, workers' compensation, and other benefits, according to Pro Publica. Insecurity and low pay aren't the only problems temp. workers face, however. Once workers are employed through layers of temp. agencies and subcontractors, they often get little training, and it becomes difficult to trace who is responsible for wage and safety violations.

Lobbyists, Trade Associations, and Corporations

Some of the powerful lobbying groups, trade associations, and corporations with active lobbying arms that fight pro-worker legislation with developed profiles in SourceWatch include:



Featured Articles

See Archive of Wage Crushers Articles for more.

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