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Featured Work

Senator Whitehouse Exposes ALEC Climate Change Denial

by Jamie Corey

Sheldon Whitehouse Climate Change200px.jpg
This week, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), took to the Senate floor to call upon America to “wake up” to the damaging effects of climate change denial and the fossil fuel industry funding received by groups that promote it, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate bill mill that has been pushing a destructive agenda of climate change denial.

"ALEC is an organization, which works to undercut climate science and undermine climate progress at the state level, interfering in our state legislatures. ALEC has tried to roll back state renewable fuel standards and has handed out model state legislation to obstruct and tie up the President's Clean Power Plan," Whitehouse boldly stated on the Senate floor.

Read the rest of this item here.

Cookie-Cutter ALEC Right-to-Work Bills Pop in Multiple States

by Jody Knauss

This week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed an anti-union right-to-work (RTW) bill into law. RTW laws require unions to provide the same representation and workplace services to all workers in a workplace but make contributing to the cost of that representation optional. They lead to smaller, weaker unions and lower worker wages and benefits.

The Center for Media and Democracy detailed the fact that the Wisconsin bill was taken almost word for word from the American Legislative Exchange Council "model" bill. (See CMD's side-by-side here.) And we reported on the Koch and Bradley Foundation funding behind the panoply of usual suspects that flew into the state to testify on behalf of the bill, including "experts" from the National Right to Work Committee, the Mackinac Center and the Heritage Foundation with assists from ALEC "scholar" Richard Vedder and State Policy Network "stink tanks" like the Wisconsin Public Research Institute. And let's not forget the $1 million in TV ads from the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity group. Read the rest of this item here.

Madison Students Rally to Demand Justice for Tony Robinson

by Rebekah Wilce

Madison students at capitol
MADISON -- High school and middle school students walked out of class in Madison, Wisconsin on Monday and marched on the state capitol building to demand justice for Tony Robinson, the 19-year old unarmed black man who was shot and killed by white police officer Matthew Kenny on Friday evening, March 6.

Chanting "What's his name? Tony Robinson!" the students from West, Memorial and La Follette High Schools converged on the capitol from all directions joined by UW-Madison students and younger students from Georgia O'Keeffe Middle School. Students from East High walked out and filled East Washington Avenue throughout the morning, marching towards the capitol. Students from Sun Prairie High, Robinson's alma mater, also made their way to the capitol building. The vibrant, peaceful demonstration was featured on national news broadcasts that evening.

Read the rest of this item here.

Tony Robinson Killing Highlights Wisconsin's Racial Inequities

by Brendan Fischer

Justice4tony house200px.jpg
Soon after becoming governor in 2011, Scott Walker eliminated funding for the state's first program to track and remedy Wisconsin's worst-in-the-country rate of racial disparities. The program, aimed at monitoring racial profiling during traffic stops, had only taken effect one month earlier, and Walker declared that the repeal "allows law enforcement agencies to focus on doing their jobs."

Then-State Bar President James C. Boll, Jr., said at the time "[t]he data collection just began this year. At best, to repeal this requirement now would signal that the Legislature has concluded, without any empirical basis, that racial profiling does not exist in Wisconsin or is not a significant problem."

Yet Wisconsin does, in fact, have significant problems. The state has the highest rate of incarceration of black men in the country, and most Wisconsin counties arrest black people at exceptionally high rates--even outpacing the disparities in Ferguson, Missouri. Read the rest of this item here.

Shooting the Messenger: ALEC Allies Attack Academic Studies on Right to Work

by Jody Knauss

Wisconsin’s American Legislative Exchange Council-inspired right to work measure seems destined to become law, despite hours of testimony in opposition and a growing number of reports showing that claims about the law’s benefits simply are not true.

As right-to-work (RTW) was fast-tracked through the legislature this week, ALEC legislators were pushing a series of talking points about how the anti-union measures will be a boon to the state's economy, relying on the questionable research of ALEC scholar Richard Vedder.

Vedder claims that incomes in Wisconsin would be $1,600 per year higher if the state had enacted RTW thirty years ago. If that sounds like a stretch, it is. The leading study on the economic effects of right-to-work, from Elise Gould and Heidi Shierholz (who is now Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor), found that wages in right-to-work states overall are $1,500 lower. Among the problems in Vedder’s study is his focus on personal income, which combines the stock market gains and other income sources of the very wealthy with the ordinary wages most people live by. Read the rest of this item here.

National Right to Work Committee Attacks WI Workers with Hypocritical Zeal

by Jonas Persson

Greg Mourad, VP of NRTWC
The testimony at the March 2 hearing on the Wisconsin "right to work" bill was dramatic.

"Imagine leaving the [Capitol] today, ready to get some food when a cab pulls up. Two guys grab you, throw you into the back of the cab. The driver announces that the cab is on its way to Green Bay. You protest. But the other passengers don't let you out. They pull over in Green Bay, the car stops, they untie you and demand $300."

This, says Greg Mourad, VP of the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC), is the way that unions in Wisconsin organize, and why the bill should be passed.

After Scott Walker likened Wisconsin teachers, snowplow drivers, firefighters and cops to terrorists over the weekend, being compared to mere criminals is a step up for union organizers like Eleni Schirmer, who co-chairs the Teaching Assistants Association at UW-Madison. Read the rest of this item here.

Recent Articles from

Right-to-Work and Abortion Reversals Follow Pattern for Scott Walker

by Brendan Fischer and Mary Bottari

In an October 2014 campaign ad, released just a few weeks before election day, Scott Walker looked directly into the camera and told voters, "I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options." He said a bill he supported "leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor."

But this week, Walker announced that he will sign a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks--an extreme limitation that may run afoul of Roe v. Wade--taking the decision away from a woman and her doctor, even when her health is at risk.

Walker is gaining a national reputation as a straight-shooter. “He has a plain-spoken way that is totally relatable. He says what he's going to do and does it,” Mark Block recently told Bloomberg News. Block ran the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity chapter in Wisconsin during Walker's first gubernatorial run.

Read the rest of this item here.

ALEC Right-to-Work Bill to Be Signed by Walker

by Jonas Persson

After an all-nighter in the Wisconsin State Assembly, the right-to-work bill passed along party lines. Despite promises to the contrary, the governor has made it clear that he will sign it into law by Monday.

With core components lifted word for word from an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) “model,” the bill was jammed through in less than two weeks. The bill’s Senate author, ALEC member Scott Fitzgerald (R-13), objected to this characterization and explained that the language was lifted from Michigan’s right-to-work law, yet that bill was also lifted directly from ALEC model legislation. ALEC passed out toolkits in 2013 ("You Can Too!") describing how Michigan passed right-to-work using ALEC model legislation, and urging other states to do the same.

In the marathon session in the GOP-dominated Assembly, ALEC came up frequently prompting complaints from Republican lawmakers.

Read the rest of this item here.

CMD Submits Testimony on Right to Work

by Brendan Fischer

The Center for Media and Democracy submitted the following testimony on Wisconsin's right to work bill to the Assembly's Committee on Labor:

The Center for Media and Democracy was asked by Representative Christine Sinicki to address the close connections between the American Legislative Exchange Council, or “ALEC,” and the right-to-work bill being considered today.

ALEC has been described as a conduit for corporate interests to access and influence state legislators. ALEC is a way for global corporations to push their preferred policies on the state level, away from public view.

It was not until a whistleblower came to the Center for Media and Democracy in 2011 with ALEC’s previously-secret model bills that some sunlight began to shine on the organization. CMD published the website, and the public could finally begin to connect the dots between ALEC “models” and legislation moving in their states. Read the rest of this item here.

Scott Walker’s CPAC Stumble is the Tip of the ISISberg

by PR Watch Admin

Recently Scott Walker, now leading the Republican presidential nomination field, told a crowd that the peaceful 2011 Uprising against his collective bargaining ban could be compared to responding as a commander in chief to the decapitations and rogue Islamic fury of ISIS. Wisconsin's Raging Grannies—who indeed were (unconstitutionally, by the way) arrested at the Wisconsin State Capitol for singing without a permit—now stood menacingly in league with “Jihadi John.”

There is much more for the American public to learn about Walker. Indeed, the comical substitution of flaming gasoline or Bolshevism for a semitic salutation begins to look more like Freudian slip than a secretarial goof. Read the rest of this item here.

Editors' Pick

Walker Budget Sneaks Major Policy Changes Past Education Agency

by Jonas Persson

I Will Not Tell DPI-200px.jpg
Scott Walker is traveling the country portraying himself as a straight shooter. "We said what we're gonna do, and we did it!" he told CPAC delegates in DC last month. But here in Wisconsin he has earned a reputation for governing by sneak attack and "bombshell," as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described the governor's track record of springing major policy changes on the public, stakeholders, and even legislators.

Two years ago, Walker wielded his veto pen and struck a loophole from the the 2013-15 budget bill that could have inadvertently expanded the state's school voucher program. In last month's budget address, he instead announced that he would lift the cap entirely.

Yet another bombshell? No, said his spokesperson Lauren Patrick, who hastened to assure the Journal Sentinel that the entire budget bill was "the result of months long work with staff, legislators and stakeholders." But a closer look at the drafting files for the K-12 sections of the executive budget bill, and what one major stakeholder—the Department of Public Instruction—requested, reveals something very strange.

Read the rest of this item here.

Koch Brothers Should Return $157 Million in Government Subsidies

by Mary Bottari

The fossil fuel barons, Charles and David Koch, have long advocated for "economic freedom" and a smaller government. They have slammed "collectivism" and market distorting subsidies.

In 2012, Charles Koch decried corporate welfare and “crony capitalism” in the pages of the Wall Street Journal: “Far too many well-connected businesses are feeding at the federal trough. By addressing corporate welfare as well as other forms of welfare, we would add a whole new level of understanding to the notion of entitlement reform,” he wrote.

The Koch's “secret bank” Freedom Partners has spent hundreds of millions in elections in part to tackle “‘rent-seeking,’ ‘corporate welfare,’ and other forms of cronyism.”

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

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 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.

Right to Work

Excerpt from a longer SourceWatch article on Right to Work:

"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. "Right to work" laws do not create a right to employment, do nothing to improve in any way a person's odds of getting or keeping a job, and do not create any jobs.

Major corporate lobbying groups such as the National Right to Work Committee, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its local affiliates like Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its local offshoot the American City County Exchange (ACCE), have been pushing such policies in the United States for decades.[1][2]

Advocates of "right to work" like the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Koch-founded and -funded Americans for Prosperity sometimes claim that the laws are needed to protect workers from being forced to join a union or to pay for political campaigning.[3][4] However, federal law already includes provisions for workers who object to union membership, but who are working as part of a bargaining unit represented by a union, as explained by the National Labor Relations Board: "Even under a security agreement, employees who object to full union membership may continue as 'core' members and pay only that share of dues used directly for representation, such as collective bargaining and contract administration. Known as objectors, they are no longer full members but are still protected by the union contract."[5][6][7]

So-called "right to work" laws do not create a right to have or hold a job, and should not be confused with the "right to work" as described in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.[8]

Read the entire SourceWatch page on Right to Work here.


  1. Center for Media and Democracy, "Right to Work Act Exposed," ALEC Exposed project, accessed February 12, 2015.
  2. Jonas Persson, "National Right to Work Committee Attacks WI Workers with Hypocritical Zeal," Center for Media and Democracy, PR Watch, March 3, 2015. Accessed March 6, 2015.
  3. National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, "Right to Work FAQ," organizational press release, accessed February 16, 2015.
  4. Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin, Now is the Time for Right to Work, organizational website, February 20, 2015.
  5. National Labor Relations Board, "Employer/Union Rights and Obligations," government website, accessed February 16, 2015.
  6. Labor Management Relations Act, U.S. federal law, passed 1947.
  7. Communications Workers of America v. Beck, U.S. Supreme Court case, 1988.
  8. United Nations, "U.N. Declaration of Human Rights," Article 28, organizational document, December 10, 1948. Accessed February 12, 2015.

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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