New book examines the growth of state anti-labor laws

UO political science professor Gordon Lafer

Back in 2011, a worrisome trend emerged in state governments — they were beginning to slash protections of worker’s rights. Gordon Lafer, a professor at the UO’s Labor Education and Research Center, noticed and began to look deeper into it.

“The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time” was the result. The book was a culmination of research that lasted five years and looked into every state’s history of corporate-backed legislation. The basic argument is that corporations are hiring lobbyists to rewrite America’s laws at a state level.

“It was like watching a million bombs go off in different places,” Lafer said of the explosion of corporate lobbyists in 2011. “Each one was being treated like, ‘Oh, this terrible thing is being done by senator so-and-so in New Hampshire.’”

Lafer’s research uncovered a pattern showing what exactly these corporations wanted. They cut pensions, lowered minimum wages and limited the power of unions, among dozens of other goals.

To learn more about Lafer’s research, read “Class War in the Capital City” on NW Labor Press.

Lafer has been with the Labor Education and Research Center since 1997. His research focuses on industrial and policy research, and economic and employment policy. In 2009-10, he took a leave from the UO to serve as senior policy advisor for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor.