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Students Take On ALEC

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ALEC Protest, Cincinnati, Ohio, April 29, 2011.

CREDIT: Flickr / Mentatmark

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) may be an under-the-table operation, but when activists young and old are willing to lift up that high-thread-count tablecloth and take a look, we won’t let ALEC get away with it for long.

The bite size version of the semi-hidden story is this: ALEC, an organization backed by high-power corporations including Wal-Mart and Exxon-Mobil and funded by right-wing donors, has been scheming with state legislators to write and lobby for “model legislation,” which said legislators then push through the lawmaking process. In short, corporations have been sneaking their way into the formal legislative process. ALEC’s efforts have resulted in high-profile and highly controversial bills, such as racist anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona, anti-union bills in Wisconsin, and anti-environmental and anti-woman bills in states across the country. In March, Campus Progress revealed that ALEC played a major role in the spate of “voter ID” legislation that President Clinton and many others have identified as extremely racist and the most abominable efforts toward disenfranchisement since the Jim Crow laws.

Campus Progress and other progressive organizations are working to expose the real story behind ALEC and its members, but the most inspiring tales come from local efforts like one in New Orleans. On Aug. 5, the Student Labor Action Project at Louisiana State University is coordinating with other activists from the area to protest at the group’s plush, exorbitant annual summit in an effort to hold them accountable for their actions.

“We hope … to not only fight back against these attacks on working families but also to strike forward a new path of progress,” an organizer of the protest Mark Mendoza said. “We must begin to form a united front of pro-worker interests that can offer a viable and independent political movement of the working class.”

For more information on this upcoming event, visit the group’s website.

How can YOU support the movement?

Emily Wood is an intern with Campus Progress.

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