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Transatlantic Solidarity Deals a Blow to US Right Wing Group ALEC

by ManfromMiddletown Thu Nov 6th, 2014 at 02:14:09 PM EST

There is some rare good news today in American politics. ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right wing organization dedicated to bringing neoliberal policies, and worse to US state governments, has lost a major donor.  

SAP, a German-based firm with regional offices in the U.S., said Thursday that it will "immediately disassociate itself" from ALEC, the conservative coalition of state legislators and corporations that has come under fire in recent months for its opposition to environmental regulations.

"SAP has decided to immediately disassociate itself from ALEC," a company representative said in a statement given to the left-leaning Center for Media and Democracy and obtained by National Journal. "The membership had been under review for some time and is now being canceled."

When asked if the decision was because of ALEC's conservative stance on climate change, the representative replied, "Not only [that] position, on gun control and voter rights as well." ALEC has historically been tied to pushing looser gun control and stricter voter identification laws, but says it no longer works on social policies.


This did not come out of the blue, there is a European connection.  The impetus for SAP's departure was an article published in Manager Magazine in which the glaring discrepancy between how the company presented itself in Europe and its support for a group promoting climate change denial, and worse. The single strongest statement came from the works council:

Im Umfeld der SAP-Mitarbeitervertretung gibt es jedoch kein Verständnis für SAPs Eskapaden in Amerika: "In einer politischen Organisation, die Positionen der Tea Party vertritt, hat SAP nichts zu suchen", heißt es dort auf Anfrage von manager magazin online. "Den politischen Raum müssen Politiker gestalten - nicht Unternehmensvertreter, die dafür kein Mandat haben."In the view of the SAP works council there is no misunderstanding of SAP's escapades in America: "SAP has no place in a political organization that represents the positions of the Tea Party", it told manager magazin online. "The political space must make politicians -. Not corporate representatives who have no mandate for it"

The German is original, and the English my attempt to clean up an automatic translation. I'm involved in groups working in to combat the influence of ALEC.  One of the most successful tactics that's been employed thus far to go after the corporations sponsoring the group.  Under pressure, a number have quit.  In discussing, this SAP case this morning, I mentioned that SAP is hardly the only firm funding ALEC which has a works council in its European facilities.

So I checked the roughly 130 companies currently known to fund the group against the EU's European Work Council database.  There are 22 firms that matched,  either directly or through parent firms and subsidiaries. They are:

Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. (Through In-Bev)
Bayer
Boehringer Ingelheim
BP
Chevron
Crown, Cork, and Seal
Diageo
Dow Chemical Company
Eli Lilly
Emerson Electric
ExxonMobil
FedEx
Georgia-Pacific
Honeywell
Novartis
Pfizer
Shell
T-Mobile (Through parent firm Deutsche Telekom)
Takeda

The question now is how those of us in the US, hoping to make members of the European Works Councils at these  companies aware that their firm is funding a group the denies climate change, and is generally trying to screw over workers in the US as much as possible. Since I know that some of our people here at ET have connections with Brussels, I was hoping that someone would be able to tell us how we can locate contact information for members of the works councils (European or otherwise) at these firms. I've been able to locate the names of European Works Councils through the EU database, but nothing about who sits on them, or contact information for them.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

The people pushing austerity and corporate control of politics operate across national borders, if we hope to push back, so to must we.

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I wouldn't know how to get contact info on the EWC representatives.

However, for those companies listed on European stock exchanges, it may be worthwhile looking up their boards of directors. Many European countries have rules requiring employee representatives on the boards of public companies. These will often be drawn from the main union, or from CSR/compliance divisions, and so may be susceptible to moral suasion.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Nov 6th, 2014 at 04:53:34 PM EST
An organism that should be able to help on this is ETUC, aka the European Trade Union Confederation in Brussels.

I'll give Melanchthon a ping, he would doubtless have suggestions to make.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 7th, 2014 at 09:06:56 AM EST
Also try this.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 7th, 2014 at 09:27:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll insist on the likely usefulness of this one. It's from ETUC's information body, ETUI, and it's a database of all European Works Councils. (For a note on what are European Works Councils, see here).

You can search by company and get information on their EWC. Unfortunately they don't give contact details, but you get the status and name of the works council, and can draw up a list of targets. Then possibly googling may come up with contact details.

Links page from Eurofound on European labour relations, that may be of some use. (Eurofound is another potentially useful resource).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 8th, 2014 at 04:15:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the help.  If anyone has something to send to me privately, I can be reached at "my username" @ G Mail .

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sat Nov 8th, 2014 at 08:57:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks to all.

There are some groups who want to move ahead, but we all are sort of staring down how to do this.

The comment from JakeS is great.

These companies represent somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the ALEC's current revenue.  They have already lost about 1/3 their income from corporate donations in the past year.  At this point its down to the energy and pharma firms that are very hard to move.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Nov 7th, 2014 at 12:03:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Out of interest, is the list of companies known to support ALEC publicly available?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Nov 7th, 2014 at 03:18:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. ALEC Exposed

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Nov 7th, 2014 at 05:34:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't screw ALEC while wearing a vulcanized condom.  Those tea-baggers are the ultimate disease.
by rifek on Sun Nov 9th, 2014 at 12:06:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wasn't InWales at one point involved with union organizing, too?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2014 at 09:19:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. I'm not sure how much Internet access she has at the moment, though.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2014 at 12:12:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same seems to apply to Melanchthon...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2014 at 12:17:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I found contact info for the ETUC staff responsible for Transatlantic dialogue, and sent an email on Sunday.  No response yet, but perhaps it being Remembrance Day today, they were out for a long weekend.  Much hoping that is the case, as compared to them being confused by my email.  

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Tue Nov 11th, 2014 at 06:35:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you contacted the activists in the SAP works council who brought this decision about? Probably they know who to contact in the other companies, and maybe they have already contacted them.
by Katrin on Fri Nov 7th, 2014 at 04:05:00 PM EST
No. That is a great place to start, I wish I had thought of.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Nov 7th, 2014 at 05:30:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great tactic, MfM.

I don't have any specific contacts to add, but if you have people who can google in the required languages, works council members are often quoted in the press. Once you have their name and location, making contact gets easier.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Nov 8th, 2014 at 03:23:31 AM EST


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