(originally published on July 27, 2008)
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s most powerful business lobbying organization1, has been campaigning against unions, fair labor practices, increases in the minimum wage, and legal protections for America’s workers for nearly a century. The Chamber’s anti-union initiatives are just one part of its multi-issue agenda. Unlike other anti-union organizations, this prominent lobbying force does not hide its alignment with big business.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Chamber has an annual budget of $150 million2 and 300 staff members.3 With President Thomas J. Donohue at the helm, annual contributions to the hamber from its largest corporate members rose from $600,000 to $90 million in less than a decade.4 Since he took office in 1997, Donohue has built a more aggressive and politically-powerful Chamber not afraid to take on controversial issues at the request of its large corporate donors and the Bush White House.5 This direction has caused the Business Roundtable and other moderate members of the business community to distance themselves from the organization.6
Even when Donohue first took office Business Week expressed caution at his “frontal assault on unions,” commenting that “Polls show strong public
For decades, labor-community coalitions have joined together to hold corporations accountable for their treatment of employees. Recently, the Chamber published a briefing book aimed at attacking the motives and methods of these so-called ‘corporate campaigns.’17 The author, Jarol B. Manheim, a George Washington University political scientist, not only villifies corporate campaigns, but finds danger in any critique of the corporate world. Manheim previously testified about the subject before Rep. Norwood’s House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections in 2002,18 and also serves as a
The Chamber is reportedly behind the launch of a new, aggressive propaganda campaign against unions by “notorious DC lobbyist” Richard Berman. In February 2006, with the assistance of Chamber labor lobbyist Randel Johnson,20 Berman created the Center for Union Facts, a new front group responsible for a steady stream of anti-union TV commercials and full-page ads in major daily newspapers.
You'd think a group called the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) would be dedicated to promoting the needs and desires of America's workers. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, CDW spreads half-truths and lies about the Employee Free Choice Act to wage an ill-conceived assault on the rights and opportunities of millions of men and women across the country.
Here's the real scoop on the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace...
CDW is a front group for business associations, industry lobbying groups, and right-wing policy centers who are against workers getting a fair shake in this economy. Its financial backers include some of the most virulent anti-worker and anti-union organizations in the country, including:
CDW is doing the dirty work for CEOs and corporate special interests. Too ashamed to be fighting publicly against policies that would provide workers with real economic opportunities, these companies instead use their deep pockets and powerful influence to fund CDW’s dishonest PR and lobbying campaign.
The CEOs and multimillion dollar
CDW spreads misinformation. Contrary to the lies and distortions displayed in CDW’s new TV ad and on its website, the Employee Free Choice Act does not take secret ballots away from workers. The legislation instead offers employees an alternative to the current, broken system that is slanted heavily in favor of management against workers. In fact, the bill would ensure that workers can choose their own union formation process, either through majority sign-up or a National Labor Relations Board election.
CDW’s own data and research is flawed. Instead of using well-respected academic research and public opinion
American Rights at Work will
1. The Center for Public Integrity, Lobby Watch, Top 100 Companies and Organizations.
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