Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Labor, community groups plan to rally against Americans for Prosperity

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

Labor and community organizations will hold rallies in Topeka and Wichita this week to protest Americans For Prosperity, which they say helped produce one of the most anti-worker legislative sessions in state history.

"Their (AFP's) agenda is extreme austerity aimed at all working people and our communities," said Lisa Ochs, president of the American Federation of Teachers-Kansas.

The rallies will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday in front of AFP offices in Topeka and Wichita.

AFP is a nationwide organization that describes itself as "advancing every individual’s right to economic freedom and opportunity." It supports cutting both taxes and government spending and was founded by billionaires Charles and David Koch, who run Wichita-based Koch Industries.

As a tax-exempt "social welfare" organization, AFP does not have to disclose its donors.

When the legislative session ended in June, AFP-Kansas applauded legislators who voted for spending cuts and a provision that limits growth in state spending to no more than 2 percent per year.

“In the last few years, legislators have made great strides to bring the state of Kansas on a path toward fiscal responsibility,” said AFP-Kansas state director Jeff Glendening.

AFP also praised legislators for making any expansion of Medicaid more difficult, giving Gov. Sam Brownback more power in naming appeals court judges, and a new law that bars public employee unions from taking voluntary deductions from members' paychecks to help finance political activities.

The group also expressed disappointment that the Legislature failed to de-fund Common Core education standards and said it hoped the issue would be taken up again in the 2014 legislative session.

AFP has been seen as a key factor in making the Legislature more conservative.

Groups that have endorsed protesting against AFP include American Federation of Teachers-Kansas; Communications Workers Local 6401; Communications Workers Local 6402; Cross Border Network; IBEW Local 1523; Interfaith Worker Justice-Wichita; Kansas AFL-CIO; Kansas City Federation of Teachers and School Related Personnel (AFT Local 691); Kansas Equality Coalition-Topeka Chapter; Kansas Families for Education; Kansas National Organization for Women; Kansas People's Action; Kansas Organization of State Employees; Kansas Progressive Caucus; Kansas Young Democrats; Lawrence Center for Peace & Justice; Manhattan Alliance For Peace & Justice; MoveOn Johnson County; MoveOn Oklahoma; MoveOn Topeka; MoveOn Wichita; Moving Kansas Forward; SEIU Local 513; Sunflower Community Action; Topeka Federation of Labor; True Blue Women; Wichita-Hutchinson Federation of Labor; and the Working Kansas Alliance.