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St.Louis American: St. Louisans protest U.S. Chambers of Commerce visit

March 14, 2011- "Hey Tom Donohue, we don't like your point of view," yelled protesters Friday outside the Metropolitan Square building downtown.

Various organizations protested a visit from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's leader Tom Donohue on Friday, saying his agenda - to take away power from workers and give it to corporate CEO's and insurance companies - is not welcome in St. Louis.

While Donohue visited with the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, about 35 people stood outside the RCGA's office, yelling, "We want health care not corporate welfare."

In January, the chamber supported Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's action to revise state laws by putting a cap on the amount of damages courts can award civilians in lawsuits against companies and health care providers.

After Walker signed the legal reform, Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, issued the following statement, "All across the United States, governors and state legislatures are considering important civil justice reforms that will help promote job creation and rein in excessive litigation."

The chamber also supported Walker's leadership in limiting Wisconsin unions' bargaining rights, and it opposes the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which President Obama signed into law on July 21, 2010.

Montague Simmons, chair of the Organization for Black Struggle who attended the rally, said the chamber aims to promote similar changes throughout the country.

"The National Chambers of Commerce has a whole platform of issues that they've pushed throughout the states," Simmons said. "That's why you see consistency in what's happening in Wisconsin, Ohio and Minnesota and even in Missouri. It's a coordinated effort to undermined the rights of the working people and protect corporate profits."

The chamber touted Wisconsin's reforms as fueling job creation. Donohue has also stated that the "confusing and overly burdensome regulations" of Obama's financial reform create barriers to job creation.



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