New ALEC Bill in committee means drastic Prevailing Wage law changes

Assembly Bill 183 was referred to the Committee on Jobs, Economy, and Small Business on June 16, 2011. Thanks to the Center For Media and Democracy’s “ALEC Exposed” website, the true influence of The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on this bill, and the Legislators introducing it, can now be confirmed. Prior Badger Democracy articles exposed the corporate influence of ALEC on Legislators through source links, Open Records Requests, and connecting gathered information. The current Assembly Bill in committee can now be linked to a template piece of “Model Legislation,” and many of the introducing Legislators directly linked to ALEC.

Alternative media have been following ALEC for years – Badger Democracy first wrote on the mission of the semi-secret group as being one of “Corporate Anarchy” on March 29, 2011. The “ALEC Exposed” website, through a direct source, has been able to confirm what has previously been thought as “speculation” or “conspiracy theory.” As alternative media writers, we can now confirm that ALEC operates as a corporatic interest to influence legislation, maximize profit, and control the political process through its direct action. Center for Media and Democracy sources have discovered the practice of the Corporate ALEC Board and committee members drafting, and voting on “model legislation” prior to introducing it to State Legislators. The latest of these pieces of “model legislation” introduced in Wisconsin would repeal and rewrite existing Prevailing Wage laws.

The ALEC “Model Legislation”  addresses five key areas found in ALEC ideology, and consistent with its “Friedman/Chicago School” economic philosophy. These policies were well documented in “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein, and served as the basis for ALEC’s economic policies. In fact, Friedman himself addressed an ALEC conference on June 21, 2006. ALEC policies fully reflect Friedman’s philosophy of unregulated, unfettered capitalism – with no accounting for human costs. The consequences of these economic policies has consistently been high unemployment, destruction of public education, destruction of a well-trained workforce, and the dissolution of the middle class. The legislation “talking points” for conservatives are all myths based on Friedman’s failed economic philosophy, which always benefits the wealthy, corporatic interests – and disenfranchises the middle class:

Myth #1. Prevailing wage law raises government  costs, lowers “private sector” jobs due to government intervention in the “free market.”

Myth #2. Prevailing wage law increases wages, benefits at taxpayer expense.

Myth #3. Prevailing wage law adds 30% to the cost of Public Instruction.

Myth #4. Prevailing wage law keeps young, new workers from entering the workforce.

Myth #5. Repealing Prevailing wage law will increase efficiency due to the lack of Government interference in the free market.

Wisconsin’s AB 183 directly addresses all five of these talking points. The bill would repeal virtually all State oversight of public project worker wages, and drastically change the current law. According to the Fiscal Bureau report:

1. Publicly funded, private construction projects would now be exempt from the Prevailing wage law. In addition, turnkey (government acquired previously private property) or dedicated (most road, sewer) projects would be exempt from prevailing wage law.

2. The single project threshold adjusted to $50,000, multiple trade projects to $250,000 (previous law set the threshold at $25,000).

3. The bill eliminates the requirement for employers to submit payroll records from a public project to the DWD.

4. Repeals the DWD authority to levy fines for violations. Such fines could only be awarded by the courts, and only to a worker on a municipal project – not a state project.

5. Prohibits any superseding local prevailing wage laws.

6. Changes the calculation of applicable “prevailing wages,” which will lower any calculated rate of pay.

7. Municipalities under 10,000 population are exempt from prevailing wage law.

8. Allows for inclusion of “subjourneyman” employees under prevailing wage (which would lower the rate pool), and allows for employing individuals OUTSIDE of their usual field of expertise.

The effect and language of this bill follows the ALEC model perfectly. It removes virtually all state oversight of public works contracted labor. The law will allow private companies to hire sub-standard, underqualified laborers at a fraction of the cost, reaping record profits with no state reporting in labor wage practices. The Private Sector will profit at the expense of taxpayers, and the displaced, qualified workers who USED to perform those jobs. These policies always cost the State money as projects run over cost, accidents increase, and lack of accountability leads to corruption.

The players introducing the bill have a confirmed, direct link to ALEC – Robin Vos, ALEC State Chair (accepted an undisclosed amount of money from ALEC for re-election), Pat Strachota (received $1404 in ALEC campaign funds), and Dan Knodl ($2000 in ALEC campaign funds). In addition, the following State Senators are co-sponsors (who have all used taxpayer money to pay their ALEC dues) – Lazich, Moulton, Galloway, Grothman, Lassee, and Kedzie.

The influence of ALEC continues in the Wisconsin Legislature. The “lawmakers” cited here have sold out their state, and their ethics to follow this course. Remember their names and their actions when elections occur – as they have always had a choice in their actions, and they chose a corporatic ideology that will damage the middle class in Wisconsin. Vote in the recalls, vote in the elections, and spread the word to take back our Democracy around the state, nation, and around the world.



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