Class War in the Capital City

Apr 5, 2017
By Don McIntosh

There’s a top-down class war under way, but unlike the 1930s, when thugs shot workers on strike picket lines, today’s business organizations are using “hired gun” lobbyists in state capitols, to rewrite the laws – all of them – in their favor.

That’s the basic argument made by political scientist Gordon Lafer in his new book The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time. Lafer, who teaches at the Labor Education and Research Center of the University of Oregon, spent five years compiling a 50-state, 30-issue database of corporate-backed legislation. He was also there on the front lines, testifying against business-backed anti-worker laws in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, New Hampshire, and other states.

The idea for the research came to him in early 2011. Lafer had just returned to Oregon after a year in Washington, D.C., as senior adviser to the U.S. House Labor Committee. Now a drama was beginning in the Wisconsin Legislature: A surprise attack on public sector workers’ right to collective bargaining drew 100,000 protesters to the state capitol. Attacks on worker rights and protections soon spread to dozens of states.

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(Hardcover of book available here)