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Authors

Ruben J. Garcia

Abstract

There are seismic changes going on in the political system. The United States Supreme Court has constitutionalized the concentration of political power in the “one percent” in several recent decisions, including Citizens United v. FEC. At the same time, unions are representing a shrinking share of the workforce, and their political power is also being diminished. In order for unions to recalibrate the balance of political power at all, they must collaborate with grassroots community groups, as they have done in several recent campaigns. There are, however, various legal structures that make coordination between unions and nonunion groups difficult, and make nonunion workers prone to retaliation from employers. Thus, new ways of looking at campaign finance must be developed that strengthen the voice of individual workers, and give nonunion workers the freedom to engage in politics. This Article examines recent campaigns to raise the minimum wage as case studies in politics at work post-Citizens United. There have been several successful campaigns to raise the minimum wage at the local level in cities such as Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. At the same time, the federal minimum wage has been stagnant. In this Article, I propose several ways that changes in the law can facilitate the political power of low-wage workers, and thus incrementally reduce the imbalance of political power between workers and economic elites.