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May 22, 2013

Unemployed Workers Walk from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. to Tell U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Stop Blocking Green Jobs

Groups Say U.S. Chamber is Fighting for Policies That Protect Corporate Interests Over Real People

A group of unemployed workers is walking more than 140 miles from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. in order to demand that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stop blocking efforts to create green jobs. The action, called Operation Green Jobs, will culminate in a rally at the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Friday, May 24 at 10 am. Unemployed workers will share their stories and others will offer solutions to help create more jobs and a stronger economy.

Despite claims that its primary purpose is to create jobs, the U.S. Chamber has diminished the potential for green job creation. The group has spent millions attacking the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is a reality, including by suing the EPA and by calling for climate science itself to be put on trial. These efforts have hurt the ability for green entrepreneurs to get government funding and support.

“Congress focuses on dirty fossil fuels over clean energy alternatives because the U.S. Chamber gets millions from oil companies to lobby Congress,” said Carl Gibson, lead organizer of the Shut The Chamber campaign. “Like Congress, the U.S. Chamber likes to say they speak for us, but their real interest is in serving the multinational corporations who fund their activities.”

Many of the green businesses stymied by the U.S. Chamber’s efforts are small, entrepreneurial ventures, which would greatly benefit from government support in the form of tax incentives and research grants. But the groups involved in Operation Green Jobs say that the federal government has been less responsive to the nascent sector’s needs due in part to the large amount of money spent on political activity by the U.S. Chamber.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent more than $136 million in 2012to lobby on behalf of giant corporations,” said Jake Parent, coordinator of Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watchproject. “It’s time for Congress to stop listening to the corporate voice and instead turn to supporting what Americans really want—a thriving clean energy economy, and the green jobs that come with it.”

The groups said that in addition to blocking the growth of green jobs, the U.S. Chamber is fighting to enact a dangerous corporate-sponsored agenda of upward wealth redistribution through tax cuts for the rich and cuts to programs that serve the poor.

“There are 40 schools closing in Philadelphia, and kids’ futures and communities are being destroyed by austerity,” Cheri Honkala, national organizer for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. “My 10-year-old son Guillermo is marching with us all the way to DC and carrying signatures from his classmates all demanding an end to the cuts.”

The walkers are covering roughly 20 miles a day between May 18 and May 24. You can find route information at bit.ly/greenjobsroute and a daily blog on the group’s progress at http://shut-the-chamber.tumblr.com and http://ppehrc.tumblr.com.

Operation Green Jobs is supported by The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, Shut the Chamber, Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch program and Move to Amend.

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