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GOOGLE JOINS EXODUS FROM ALEC  Just weeks after Microsoft Corporation dropped its support for the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the AFT joined dozens of organizations across the country to urge Google to follow suit. Google cut ties to ALEC in September.

Google and Microsoft have been global leaders on net neutrality—the concept of allowing equal access to bandwidth for all websites regardless of financial backing—and clean energy, two positions ALEC opposes. In particular, ALEC maintains an increasingly unpopular position on climate change, resisting environmental regulations it argues could slow economic growth.

“Everyone understands climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place,” said Google Chairman Eric Schmidt on the Diane Rehm radio show Sept. 22. “We should not be aligned with such people.”

“The public knows that the ALEC operation—which brings state legislators and corporate lobbyists behind closed doors to discuss proposed legislation and share lavish dinners—threatens our democracy,” the letter to Google stated.

Over the past two years, more than 80 corporations and at least 400 state legislators have dropped their membership in ALEC, which has been called a “dating service” for politicians and corporate lobbyists and is known for pushing an extreme corporate agenda at the expense of the American people.

LEGISLATING CHANGE  The AFT has been a regular participant at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ annual summer legislative summit for many years. Keeping up with the latest state legislative trends and encouraging lawmaking that is friendly to public employees can make a huge difference in the political climate for unions and the workers they represent. At this year’s legislative gathering in Minneapolis, reclaiming the promise of public services was part of our union’s message. The summit also included a special recognition for the AFT, as Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker accepted an award on the union’s behalf for 20 years of membership in the NCSL Foundation.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?  During the AFT’s national convention this summer in Los Angeles, delegates unanimously approved an amendment to the AFT constitution to change the name of AFT Healthcare to AFT Nurses and Health Professionals. “We are honored to have had a large group—35,000 nurses from the National Federation of Nurses—join with the AFT,” said Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals President Candice Owley, chair of the healthcare division and an AFT vice president. “They remind us of the importance of a name. We made a commitment to elevate the role and the voice of the registered nurse—not just in the AFT, but in our country.”

The move also sends an important message: There are over 2 million nurses in this country who are not in unions, Owley added. “We’d like to hope and believe that the AFT can be a beacon of hope for those nurses as we elevate our voice through our 1.6 million-member union.”

Public Employee Advocate, Fall 2014
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