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The Black Commentator: US Chamber: Caught With Its Rolls Down

October 29, 2009- The nation’s premier anti-worker and anti-union institution, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was caught recently with its rolls down. Or up - however you want to look at it.

Does the behemoth representative of Corporate America represent 3 million businesses, or does it represent 300,000? Or, does it represent 200,000?

The question came up recently, when the pranksters, “The Yes Men,” held a faux press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., purporting to represent the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to announce that the Chamber had reversed its stand on climate change legislation and that it now endorsed the proposed rules and regulations to reduce greenhouse gases by some of the nation’s biggest polluters (many of them supposedly among its members).

A representative of the Chamber entered the press conference before it concluded and declared that the imposters had misrepresented the group’s position and that any questions should be directed to him. He declined to answer the question: Then, does the Chamber still oppose the proposed law and does it favor the continued pollution of the air as had been previously stated by the group?

The little prank turned out to be a big blow to the credibility of the U.S. Chamber, in that its claimed membership of three million was called into question. As it turned out, the membership rolls depend on who is counting and how the counting is done.

Many local and regional Chambers of Commerce were quick to point out that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does not speak for them and that the national body does not consult all of the subordinate bodies before they take a position on such an important issue as that of the climate change bill that is before Congress.

It could be that the dues money of the “little chambers” doesn’t cover even a small percentage of the U.S. Chamber’s lobbying and advertising, both in favor of policies and legislation that it supports and in opposition to those things that it wants to eliminate or prevent. The national body’s budget is reported to be at least $150 million and the dues of small city, county, and regional chamber members - in the hundreds of dollars each - would not total the kind of money that makes up the national budget.

It’s not the small change that the U.S. Chamber is after, because, according to the Green Chamber of Commerce (which supports legislation that reduces greenhouse gases), the U.S. Chamber is “dominated by oil companies, pharmaceutical giants, automakers, and other polluting industries…” Therefore, it makes sense that they would be against any legislation that would curb the pollution-generating giants of the American economy.



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