The Chamber's narrow, radical agenda advocating for anti-worker, profit-focused solutions to the broken health care, labor, and environmental systems garnered them the most votes for the national Jobs with Justice "Scrooge of the Year" award.
Thousands of votes were cast in the Jobs with Justice annual contest to determine which greedy, cold-hearted organization or person deserves the title "Scrooge of the Year." Voters chose the Chamber of Commerce as their winner this year as it's became increasingly clear that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has developed into a front group for a few narrow interests, not a membership association that represents the voice of mainstream American businesses. The Chamber has spent millions of dollars lobbying against legislation that would benefit workers and families like the Employee Free Choice Act, health insurance reform, paid sick days, and environmental regulations. Their extreme positions have led some companies and local chapters of the Chamber to disaffiliate from the national group.
This year's Scrooge contest pitted the Chamber of Commerce against Bank of America, nominated for their role in the sub-prime lending crisis and failure to extend credit to small businesses, Hyatt Hotels for their Scrooge-like firing of 100 housekeepers in Boston and other anti-worker actions, Publix Supermarkets for their resisting the call to be part of the solution to human rights violations in Florida fields by continuing to buy tomatoes from growers prosecuted for modern-day slavery, and student loan lenders Sallie Mae and Citibank for their expensive, variable rate loans for students. An impressive write-in campaign was also waged for United Airlines, for their slashing of workers' wages and pensions while continuing to award lavish bonuses to top executives.
"There was plenty of competition for the award this year," said Jobs with Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta, "but the similarities between Scrooge and the Chamber of Commerce were hard to beat. The ghost of years past would show that the policies they've promoted including deregulation and maximizing profits at the expense of workers are directly connected to the destruction of America's middle class."
Throughout the country, many people remain unemployed and more are working harder and longer than ever before to make ends meet, as highlighted in our recently released report examining the impact of the economic crisis on working people.
Over the holidays and in the coming weeks, Jobs with Justice will begin a campaign to engage working people in the fight for the creation of a national jobs program.
"We fully expect the Chamber of Commerce to come out in opposition to our demand for good paying and family sustaining jobs," said Gupta, "but we will not cede this moment nor shy away from this fight. The ghost of future years will show that in this time of crisis, it was our efforts that helped put people back to work."