"Hey Tom Donohue, we don't like your point of view," yelled protesters Friday outside the Metropolitan Square building downtown.

Various organizations protested a visit from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's leader Tom Donohue on Friday, saying his agenda - to take away power from workers and give it to corporate CEO's and insurance companies - is not welcome in St. Louis.

While Donohue visited with the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, about 35 people stood outside the RCGA's office, yelling, "We want health care not corporate welfare."

In January, the chamber supported Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's action to revise state laws by putting a cap on the amount of damages courts can award civilians in lawsuits against companies and health care providers.

After Walker signed the legal reform, Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, issued the following statement, "All across the United States, governors and state legislatures are considering important civil justice reforms that will help promote job creation and rein in excessive litigation."

The chamber also supported Walker's leadership in limiting Wisconsin unions' bargaining rights, and it opposes the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which President Obama signed into law on July 21, 2010.

Montague Simmons, chair of the Organization for Black Struggle who attended the rally, said the chamber aims to promote similar changes throughout the country.

"The National Chambers of Commerce has a whole platform of issues that they've pushed throughout the states," Simmons said. "That's why you see consistency in what's happening in Wisconsin, Ohio and Minnesota and even in Missouri. It's a coordinated effort to undermined the rights of the working people and protect corporate profits."

The chamber touted Wisconsin's reforms as fueling job creation. Donohue has also stated that the "confusing and overly burdensome regulations" of Obama's financial reform create barriers to job creation.

"What made the greatest economy in the history of the world, created more jobs, created more wealth was a free-enterprise economy with free and open trade with open capital markets...and the right to make it in a system with moderate regulation and taxes," according to the chamber's statement in regards to Obama's reform.

However, Simmons pointed to a CNN report released February that showed middle-class wages have remained the same since the 1980s, but the incomes of the upper class, making $380,000 or more, have increased by 33 percent.

John McFarland of MORE said the country can no longer continue to widen the gap between the working and upper class.

"Until we start looking at the situation that brought us to this point, we are going to be in the same situation," McFarland said. "We got to fix it. People need to realize this won't get better without us standing up and making it better."

David Hilliard, a child-support worker from Jennings, said he attended the rally to protest the chamber's support for the Wisconsin governor's actions.

"If the powers that be in Wisconsin have their way, they will set a precedent in the rest of the country, including Missouri," Hilliard said. "They will try to stop collective bargaining that way they can cut their budgets on the backs of workers."

Hilliard recognizes that the RCGA is trying to attract business, which he believes is a good thing.

"But let's try to attract responsible businesses," he said. "We don't want to get pushed aside or fired so you can fatten up your bottom line."

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.
0
0
0
0
0

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.