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Who Does the Chamber of Commerce Speak For?

by Nicole Granaki

November 12, 2009

Hey Activists!  This is my first time in the blogging world, and I’m here to write about what happened today in Chicago at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Greenpeace Chamber protest in Chicago

You may have already read in Tracy’s blog that the U.S. Chamber is having meetings around the country this month. They stopped off in Philadelphia first, and then headed out my way to Chicago. You may have also seen in the national media that the Chamber is the center of a lot of controversy lately. Big name companies have left the Chamber, quit from the Chamber board, or publicly disagreed with the Chamber. These companies include Nike, Apple, Exelon, Levi Strauss, GE… the list goes on and on.  

Why aren’t businesses and the Chamber seeing eye to eye? Doesn’t the Chamber represent American business? Well, in the last 3 months alone, the Chamber spent $34 million dollars lobbying AGAINST reforms of all kinds. The Chamber has continually sided with overpaid CEO’s against the interests of the average Americans, and it’s very members aren’t standing for it.

Greenpeace Chamber protest in Chicago

So who is the Chamber speaking for? Two small Chicago business owners headed to the conference today to learn more about the Chamber. Despite having paid premium non-member admission they were turned away at the door. Their tickets, businesses, and local Chamber memberships were not enough to allow them to attend the Chamber meeting. I met them across the street where they asked me and the Channel 7 News cameras, "Is small business not valued by the Chamber?"

Greenpeace Chamber protest in Chicago

So who is it that the Chamber is speaking for? They don’t speak for Apple, Nike, GE, Microsoft and others…

And they certainly don’t speak for small business owners in Chicago. It’s a question I’d like to ask them, but as an average American they certainly wouldn’t invite me to the meeting.

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