Protesting dinner with ALEC
AMID SHOUTS of "Recall Fallin" and "We want democracy, not a corporatocracy," suit-clad legislators and representatives of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) sauntered passed 40 protesters on their way to a private dinner in the Oklahoma governor's mansion in Oklahoma City on April 16.
While it is currently unknown what Gov. Mary Fallin and her "distinguished" guests discussed that night, it will undoubtedly be bad news for working-class Oklahomans.
According to their website, ALEC is "the nation's largest, non-partisan, individual public-private membership association of state legislators," and "works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level." What ALEC really does is draft model legislation designed by and for corporations and right-wing special-interest groups.
For years, the model bills designed by and through ALEC have been kept private, but Aliya Rahman, an Ohio-based activist, acquired over 800 documents that have been made available on the ALEC Exposed website.
Among these documents are bills redefining voter identification requirements (which disenfranchise poor, elderly, and/or minority citizens), immigration laws (including the one passed in Arizona in 2010), and anti-worker-rights laws. (Wisconsin governor Scott Walker was himself a dues-paying member of ALEC.)
With a Republican majority in both the Oklahoma House and Senate, combined with a Republican governor, it has become increasingly simple for corporate members of ALEC to push through legislation that benefits their interests in the state. While Oklahoma is already a "right to work" state, activists are expecting even more anti-union legislation soon, with a major possibility of an attack against collective-bargaining rights.
Although the demonstration at the governor's mansion lacked a strong labor presence, there were activists from several different groups, including MoveOn, and members of Norman, Okla., Occupy. A similar demonstration a couple months ago yielded half the turnout--but it appears that there may now be an increasing desire for a more militant movement in defense of workers' rights.