US Chamber of Commerce comes to San Francisco

by Lauren Thorpe

November 19, 2009

Through my few years of experience with organizing, I’ve never had the pleasure to join with such a diverse coalition of organizations as I did yesterday when the US Chamber of Commerce came to town. With a crowd of over 100 strong, Greenpeace joined with local labor unions, a national worker’s rights group, Change To Win, as well as Sierra Club, MoveOn and many more to call out Tom Donohue, the president of the US Chamber of Commerce.

Greenpeace protests Chamber of Commerce in SF

Our event kicked off with a press conference that included high-energy speeches from local business owners, local labor union members, and representative from the Sierra Club and yours truly. After a collective call for the US Chamber of Commerce to represent the small businesses and not a handful of CEOs, we all marched over to the Fairmont Hotel where the conference was being held. There we were joined by local San Francisco City Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who jumped on the bull horn and called for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce to continue distancing itself from Tom Donohue’s US Chamber because of their polices on climate, health care, and workers’ rights.

Ross Mirkarimi at Greenpeace Chamber of Commerce protest in SF

Why so much attention on one guy? Well, because under Tom Donohue’s leadership, the US Chamber of Commerce has been pushing an agenda that favors corporate CEO profits at the expense of people and the planet. They have spent millions lobbying against important legislation, from climate to health care.

Due to previous protests in Chicago and Philadelphia at their conferences, registration for attendees was closed early and nearly half of the room was filled. I assume they suspected that San Francisco, and its business owners, would not be as welcoming to a climate denier and progress inhibitor like Tom Donohue. Well, I guess they were right about one thing.

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