Hundreds of Teamsters demonstrated outside the national meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in San Diego to demand that UPS withdraw its support of ALEC.
The Teamsters called ALEC’s agenda “anti worker” and “anti union” and criticized UPS for donating $25,000 to sponsor ALEC’s national meeting.
“Global corporations like Coca Cola, Apple, McDonald’s and even Walmart have decided that continuing their relationship with this toxic organization is too dangerous to its brand,” said Ken Hall, president of the Teamster division that deals with UPS. “It begs the question of why UPS, the largest unionized company in America, continues to associate with ALEC. It’s time for UPS to do the right thing for its workers and cut ties with ALEC.”
In the past, the Teamsters have identified ALEC as a key player in what the union calls the War on Workers.
ALEC serves as a conduit between corporate America and state legislators for right wing ideas that can be transformed into state law.
It holds regular gatherings where corporate lobbyists and state lawmakers mix and mingle.
It also writes model legislation that lawmakers can take back to their legislatures and try to get them passed into laws.
Many of these bills are aimed at lowering workers’ wages and benefits and weakening their unions. In addition, ALEC model legislation includes those that eliminate environmental and consumer protections, weaken public education, suppress voting, and raise taxes on the working class while lowering taxes for the wealthy and big corporations.
The recent spate of right to work (for less) bills that have popped up in state legislatures have ALEC fingerprints all over them.
So called right to work bills have little to do with protecting the right to work as the name implies; instead, their main aim is to lower wages.
They do so by making it more difficult for workers to form and maintain unions. Without a collective voice on the job that a union provides, it’s difficult for workers to win fair pay increases and protect their benefits.
Where right to work laws exists, unions are weaker and wages lower.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, “Wages in (right to work) states are 3.1 percent lower than those in non-right to work states,” which means that a typical full-time, full-year worker in a right to work state makes $1,558 a year less than her counterpart in a non-right to work state.
The legislature in Wisconsin recently passed a right to work bill that was taken almost verbatim from ALEC’s right to work model legislation.
ALEC’s right to work model legislation also served as a pattern for right to work legislation introduced in Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
Right to work legislation isn’t the only way that ALEC model legislation seeks to lower worker pay.
According to Robert Reich, “the rise of independent contractors is the most significant legal trend in the American workforce–contributing directly to low pay, irregular hours, and job insecurity.”
Unions like the Teamsters have been fighting the misclassification of workers as independent contractors.
ALEC, however, has been on the other side of this fight. It has a model bill that it calls the Independent Contractor Definition Act, which would make it easier for employers to misclassify their workers as independent contractors.
Prior to the San Diego demonstration, the Teamsters international office sent a letter to locals urging them to distribute a union flyer about the relationship between UPS and ALEC.
The flyer concludes by saying, “It’s time to ask UPS why it is still in bed with an organization that writes, distributes, and lobbies for laws that are solely designed to hurt working families.”
At the rally in San Diego, Teamsters held signs that read, “ALEC Bad for UPS, Worse for You” and “California Is a No ALEC Zone.”
Randy Cammack, president of Teamster Joint Council 42 in Southern California, told those at the rally to make sure that UPS’ representative at the ALEC meeting heard what the Teamsters had to say.
The demonstrators replied by chanting, “UPS, get out of ALEC! UPS, get out of ALEC! UPS, get out of ALEC!”