All shareholders in America should ask their C.E.O.’s why they still belong to the chamber. - Thomas FriedmanEvelyn and Keith Baker, owners of The Trailhead and Trailhead Cycle & Ski in Buena Vista, Colorado, pause in front of their shop with their Weimaraner, Prana, on 24 February 2011.Apple supports regulating greenhouse gases, and it's frustrating to find the Chamber at odds with us in that effort - Apple Inc.The Chamber is out of whack with what Americans want and need. They are protecting special interests not American jobs. -Danny Kennedy, SungevityWe fundamentally disagree with the U.S. Chamber on climate change - NikeThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn't speak for me. I don't think the change we need is going to come from them, the solution is in our hands. Ben Myers, Owner, 1000 Faces Coffee, Athens GA
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The U.S. Chamber’s Tired (and False) Rhetoric

“Regulation kills jobs.” This is the U.S. Chamber’s favorite go-to line, not because it’s accurate, but because it plays off of people’s fears, making it easy to believe—unless you check your facts.

The truth is that regulation is good for the environment and for the economy, but the U.S. Chamber, a long-time mouth piece for multinational corporations and the Dirty Energy industry, doesn’t want you to know that. It’s major concern is protecting the profit margins of its wealthiest members, and those members don’t want to pay to clean up the pollution that they’re spilling into our air, water and soil. Check out what Yes! Magazine has to say about this issue, in their recent article posted below:

There’s an old adage that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. That seems to be the unofficial motto of the United States Chamber of Commerce, which has spent the last forty years repeating (and repeating and repeating) the mantra that government regulations on businesses “kill jobs” and economic growth. But their predictions have been repeatedly wrong. The laws they warned would bring economic ruin have become the basic health, safety, and environmental safeguards we now take for granted.

The Chamber’s latest goal is to prevent implementation of regulations to limit greenhouse gases and toxic air pollutants (as mandated by the Supreme Court). Republican proposals to eliminate the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gasses failed in the Senate. Now they are focused on the Obama administration to thwart the EPA’s rule making process. The EPA recently proposed several regulations to address greenhouse gases, toxic emissions, and other pollutants from power plants..

Whether unemployment is high or low, the Chamber and its business allies have opposed every significant step towards a more sustainable, healthier future.

The Chamber is hoping that in these hard economic times, Americans’ concern about jobs will scare them into believing that rules to limit global warming will stifle job growth. But their rhetoric is the same when the economy is humming. Whether unemployment is high or low, the Chamber and its business allies have opposed every significant step towards a more sustainable, healthier future. They opposed the Kyoto treaty, the Clean Air Act, auto emission standards, Renewable Portfolio Standards, the Clean Water Act, removing lead from gasoline and more. They justify their opposition by claiming that these rules will kill jobs. And they are wrong every time.

Read the rest of this entry »

US Chamber vs. Nutrition for our Kids

The Washington Post has a story today about the US Chamber’s work to block new nutritional guidelines for food marketed to kids. The Chamber is teaming up with fast food outlets, the nations biggest food makers, and media companies (that benefit from kid-oriented advertising) to prevent the government from putting into place some common sense protections for our children.

“We allow companies into our homes to manipulate children to want food that will make them sick,” Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest told the Washington Post.

Rather than the government having any say in consumer protections, the US Chamber would prefer that industry itself get to write the rules. They say the food industry has a good track record for regulating itself.

A good record? Over one in three kids in the United States are now either obese or overweight. While food marketers can’t be blamed entirely for the trend, the constant bombardment of advertising for fatty and sugary snacks is certainly a factor.

From the climate to our kids, it appears the US Chamber will stop at nothing to push the agenda of the wealthy corporate special interests that set their policies.

How many friends does the US Chamber really have?

The U.S. Chamber is puffing up to make itself seem bigger and friendlier to American small businesses than it actually is–again. Bill Miller, Political Director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, just sent out an e-mail that states that “in order to ensure our country’s best days aren’t behind us, we must fight to preserve the American Dream in the days ahead,” and that citizens should support Friends of the U.S. Chamber and it’s “grassroots network, now more than 11 million strong” because it “empowers small businesses”. But what does “grassroots network” really mean to the US Chamber?

In reality, the U.S. Chamber’s version of the “American Dream” is a grim one, and one that we hope never comes to fruition; this is no story of baseball games, hot dogs and successful mom-and-pop Main Street shops.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane… Historically, the U.S. Chamber lobbied against involvement in World War II and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and supported Sen. Joe McCarthy’s hearings demanding the hunting down of “subversives” and “communists” in the early 1950s. In the 1980s and 1990s, The U.S. Chamber fought to weaken clean air standards, opposed a hazardous waste dumping ban, and lobbied against the Kyoto greenhouse gas treaty. And just recently, it petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to take no action on global warming on the grounds that “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.” Is the U.S. Chamber trying to build a “grassroots network” of physiologically adapted people?

Here’s an honest picture of the “American Dream” that the U.S. Chamber is spending millions in Congress every year to achieve: poisoned soil, water and air, increased rates of respiratory ailments and diseases from toxic pollution, the obliteration of civil rights for minority populations in the United States, and last but not least–humans with gills, so that we can continue to fight for survival as the ice caps melt and the oceans rise.

The U.S. Chamber has waged this ideological 100-year war against regulation for one reason: profits. Not profits for average small businesses in America, but for the largest multi-national corporations in the country. In 2010, 55% of the Chamber’s funding came from just 16 corporations, and the legislation it lobbies for was written by the wealthiest corporations and most powerful industries in the United States.

“The U.S. Chamber Doesn’t Speak for Me” campaign was forged out of a need to expose the U.S. Chamber as a corporate front group so that it can no longer lobby with impunity as the “voice of small business”, and the good news is that the Chamber knows it’s vulnerable–that’s why it inflates it’s membership numbers (we would love to see where that “grassroots network, now more than 11 million strong” figure came from), masks its motives and refuses to publicly state who it’s biggest corporate funders are. The U.S. Chamber is on thin ice, and with thousands of businesses and scores of local chambers uniting with us in declaring “The U.S. Chamber Doesn’t Speak for Me”, we’ll make sure that anyone who joins Friends of the U.S. Chamber knows what they’ve actually signed up for.

A One-Year “Anniver-sorry” for Barton and the U.S. Chamber

The following blog was cross-posted today from U.S. Chamber Watch:

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Apology Heard ‘Round the World: Texas Republican Congressman Joe Barton’s apology to BP in the wake of the worst environmental disaster in history. Yet Barton wasn’t the only high-profile official feeling sorry for BP last year.  In fact, when U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue infamously told the Christian Science Monitor that the American taxpayer should pitch in on the oil spill clean-up, Congressional leaders stood up and followed suit.

Donohue told the Monitor:

“I would like to do the surgery after we get the diagnosis, you know. Everybody is going to contribute to this cleanup. We are all going to have to do it…. We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies, and we will figure out a way to do that.”

This statement became John Boehner’s line on BP as well– one for which the Speaker suffered a significant backlash. Donohue didn’t exactly fare better– Gulf Coast chambers of commerce immediately distanced themselves from his comments.  Don Moliterno, president of the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce chastised, “To say that we as taxpayers should spend more is just wrong.” Mother Jones went on to highlight “5 Ways the Chamber Shills for BP,” clear evidence that Donohue and the Chamber were doing more than just apologizing to BP for their corporate hardship, but also lobbying to ease restrictions and rules that would have prevented future disasters and provided justice to the victims of the spill.

At that same Christian Science Monitor breakfast, about a month before Barton’s apology to BP, Tom Donohue had a similar moment, when he explained that he was sick and tired of how the media and the American public were just beating up on CEOs, whether they be from big banks, the health insurance industry, or Big Oil:

“I am personally troubled about the way we have been treating not only business leaders but – let’s go there – bankers, people that run health-care companies, people that run oil companies. They are being hauled up to the Congress … and beat up like unruly children for the TV cameras.”

On today’s “Anniver-sorry” of Joe Barton’s apology, let us remind the American public that the U.S. Chamber is the ultimate apologist for corporate America or as Donohue terms it, “the reinsurance industry.”  When a corporation is “being overrun” as he explained, the Chamber “builds coalitions and [goes] out and helps them.”  That’s right – the Chamber will keep the big corporations from being accountable to their employees, customers, and the American people – and they’re not sorry about that.

U.S. Chamber President Donohue makes threatening “joke” at GOP Freshmen

In a recent gathering in Atlanta, GA the U.S. Chamber publicly demonstrated that it will go after anyone–Democrat or Republican–who stands in it’s way. President Tom Donohue was addressing a crowd of newly-elected Republican congressmen when he announced that the U.S. Chamber had a message for any freshmen who voted against raising the debt ceiling: “We’ll get rid of you.”

Apparently, this comment was supposed to be “lighthearted” and a “joke,” but what we heard was an outright threat to the newly-elected politicians in the room. The U.S. Chamber spent $32 million during the midterm elections last year, and it hasn’t wasted any time cashing in on the political influence that money can buy in Washington DC. For any Republican congressmen in attendance who accepted a campaign contribution from the U.S. Chamber last year, the threat was heard loud and clear. Check out the full story on Politico.

Until we can discredit the U.S. Chamber and expose it as an anti-democratic, anti-science corporate front group, and not the “voice of small business” that it claims to be, it will continue to use it’s gargantuan financial resources to threaten and cajole our elected leaders into voting for polluters and against the people. That’s why more than 6,000 business owners and local chambers across the nation have already declared “The U.S. Chamber Doesn’t Speak for Me.” Whether you’re a concerned citizen or a business owner, join the movement and make the declaration today.

The US Chamber’s Achilles Heel

We’ve got a plan to go after the US Chamber of Commerce for blocking climate progress–and it all starts with a single phone call to your local Chamber of Commerce.

Part 1: The US Chamber of Commerce is a corporate front group that’s blocking every effort to cut climate pollution. Contrary to the claims of its slick PR machine, the US Chamber does NOT represent the interests of small businesses or every day Americans.

Part 2: The US Chamber is vulnerable. How can a group with hundreds of millions of dollars at its disposal and a building full of lobbyists be vulnerable? Well, the US Chamber’s influence is based on its claim that it represents thousands of small businesses and local Chambers of Commerce around the country. But this claim couldn’t be further from the truth.

This is the US Chamber’s Achilles heel. If we can make it clear that the the US Chamber doesn’t represent local businesses and local Chambers of Commerce, we can start to undermine their influence on our democracy.

Here’s the good news: our team at has a strategy to expose the US Chamber for what they are and strip them of their influence. But it will take everyday citizens to make it work. Can you jump in today?

Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue Pressures Obama to Drill Baby, Drill

In yet another attempt to put big industry profits before the well-being of the American people (at the expense of individuals and small businesses alike), U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue has written a letter to President Obama urging that his administration expand offshore and onshore oil drilling and exploration across the United States. Here’s the story, cross-posted from The Wall Street Journal:

In a letter Tuesday to President Barack Obama, Mr. Donohue called on the administration to speed up issuing new offshore drilling permits, offer more offshore areas for oil and gas exploration, open new areas for drilling in the Western U.S., and approve permits for the Keystone XL pipeline proposed to bring oil from Canadian tar sands to the U.S. That project has been held up in part by opposition from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“You have appropriately called for our country to responsibly use more of our own resources but, thus far, the requisite actions from the responsible departments in your administration have not been forthcoming,” Mr. Donohue wrote.

Mr. Donohue’s letter doesn’t stake out much new ground. The Chamber has long criticized the Obama administration for proposing regulations that would limit consumption of fossil fuels. But the letter does signal that despite the recent easing of gasoline prices, the Chamber and its allies plan to continue challenging the administration’s energy policy. Republican lawmakers also have maintained fire on Mr. Obama’s energy policy, looking to capitalize on voter discontent over high gasoline prices.

Mr. Obama said in March that he supported increased domestic production, and called on oil companies to develop more of the leases they already have. Mr. Obama didn’t set a timetable for offering new offshore leases. Administration officials have pointed to the increasing number of offshore drilling permits it has issued to dispute oil industry complaints that the offshore oil regulators are dragging their feet more than a year after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and a subsequent moratorium on new deep-water drilling.

And this comment from a reader of the article sums up our position perfectly:

JS Wrote: The US CofC is so rabidly pro-superbigbusiness, that as a small business owner I can truly say that there is no position they take that either helps me or that I agree with. Personally, I think they should take the US off of their name, and just call it the CofC, since a multitude of their polices seem to hurt the very country they claim in their name…

We agree with you, JS. One more reason (and there were already so many) to declare “The U.S. Chamber Doesn’t Speak for Me.”

US Chamber Loses Superfund Fight

Yesterday, the US Supreme court decided not to hear a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect the public from dangerous health and environmental impacts of superfund sites, places with a high concentration of toxic waste or industrial chemicals. The challenge was brought to the court by GE with the support of … you guessed it … the US Chamber of Commerce .

Why would the US Chamber support an effort to block the clean up of superfund sites? After all, having a toxic waste dump in your town isn’t all that good for business. The Chamber’s involvement in the case is just another example of how the lobby group consistently puts the interests of big industry ahead of small businesses and the American people.

It’s time for businesses across the country to stand up and say that they’re sick and tired of the US Chamber protecting the big polluters that our poisoning our communities and wrecking our environment. Today, we’re celebrating the Supreme Court victory. Tomorrow, we’ll be getting back to work even harder to build a movement to say, once and for all, “The US Chamber Doesn’t Speak for Me.”

Evan Bayh signs up as the Chamber’s Latest Political Hack

Mother Jones has a biting article today covering the news that former Indiana senator Evan Bayh will now be receiving a fat pay check to serve as a lobbyist for the US Chamber of Commerce. Andy Kroll writes,

The Chamber’s hiring of Bayh, a big name in Washington circles, will only help its efforts to delay or kill new regulatory legislation in Congress. Indeed, Donohue’s memo touts how the Chamber has filed legal briefs to challenge the validity of President Obama’s health care reform bill; successfully delayed a new Securities and Exchange Commission rule on giving shareholders a say on corporate directors; unveiled plans to undermine the clout of the fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and delayed a rule forcing companies to disclose when they use conflict minerals from the Congo in their products. Bayh and Card, the memo says, will help the Chamber push this pro-corporate agenda in Washington and beyond.

In the lead up to the 2012 election, the Chamber is increasing its efforts to push a Big Polluter agenda that includes everything from gutting the Clean Air Act to making it easier for companies to use conflict minerals from the Congo. We’ll need to up our efforts, as well. Looks like its time to sign up some more businesses and local chambers in Indiana to say, “The US Chamber Doesn’t Speak for Me.”

Coalition Asks Scholastic to Stop Using Fossil-Fuel & U.S. Chamber Sponsored Materials in Classrooms

Scholastic Corporation, the global book publishing company that provides many of the educational materials used in schools in the United States today, came under scrutiny earlier this month when it became apparent that the company was using propaganda sponsored by the American Coal Foundation (ACF) in 4th-grade classrooms. Thanks to the efforts of Greenpeace USA, Center for Commercial-Free Childhood, Rethinking Schools, and Friends of the Earth, Scholastic has admitted that they ‘were not vigilant enough as to the effect of sponsorship…’, and over the weekend pulled the ACF materials off its website.

As Greenpeace USA stated in a recent blog about this Victory for Coal-Free Education, the battle has been won, but there is more work to be done. Scholastic Corporation is still using corporate and fossil fuel industry sponsored educational materials, including the Chamber-of-Commerce-funded “Shedding Light on Energy,” in classrooms around the country.

That’s why a coalition of 15 organizations have written a letter to Richard Robinson, President and CEO of Scholastic Corporation, asking that his company stop distributing fossil fuel and other industry propaganda labeled as educational materials in schools. To read the full letter, click the link below.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Step 1. Add your voice

Join us in standing with small business owners, local chambers of commerce and people all over the country to declare, “The U.S. Chamber Doesn't Speak for Me.”

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Step 2. Get Local

To show that The U.S Chamber is just a corporate front group, we’re hitting the streets. Join us:

  1. Recruit local businesses to declare “The U.S. Chamber Doesn’t Speak For Me!”
  2. Take challenges and submit photos to get prizes.