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The report highlights legislation authored or supported by major corporate lobbies such as the Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, and National Association of Manufacturers—and by corporate-funded lobbying organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Americans for Tax Reform, and Americans for Prosperity—in order to draw the clearest possible picture of the legislative and economic policy agenda of the country’s most powerful economic actors.
To make the most clear-eyed decisions in charting future policy directions, it is critical to understand how the various parts of these organizations’ agenda fit together, and where they ultimately lead.
This report provides a broad overview of the attack on wages, labor standards, and workplace protections as it has been advanced in state legislatures across the country.
Specifically, the report seeks to illuminate the agenda to undermine wages and labor standards being advanced for non-union Americans in order to understand how this fits with the far better-publicized assaults on the rights of unionized employees.
Indeed, in each state where anti-union legislation was advanced, voters typically perceived it as the product of homegrown politicians and a response to the unique conditions of their state.
In fact, however, broadly similar legislation was proposed simultaneously in multiple states, whose fiscal conditions often had little in common.
Budget cuts and political choices have exacerbated this crisis even further at the state level.
By documenting the similarities in how analogous bills have been advanced in multiple states, the report establishes the extent to which legislation emanates not from state officials responding to local economic conditions, but from an economic and policy agenda fueled by national corporate lobbies that aim to lower wages and labor standards across the country.
In 20, state legislatures undertook numerous efforts to undermine wages and labor standards: These efforts provide important context for the much-better-publicized moves to undermine public employee unions.
Thus, the only means for seeking enforcement under current law is for employees to turn to the Legal Aid Society, which relies entirely on volunteer attorneys.179 In 2010, Miami-Dade County responded to this crisis by instituting the nation’s first broad municipal wage theft law.
Enforcement is carried out by the Department of Small Business Administration through a streamlined process similar to small claims courts; employers pay the costs of county hearings—thus enforcement is costless to taxpayers—and employees are entitled to recover up to double damages.
Indiana, which had already eliminated most collective bargaining rights for state employees in 2006, adopted new legislation that prohibits even voluntary agreements with state employee unions.6 7 Note: This figure does not take account of states that enacted laws concerning public employees' wages and benefits, restrictions on public employees' union dues deductions, or restrictions on teachers' rights to tenure or seniority.