fb tracking

Unemployed workers march on U.S. Chamber headquarters after 150 mile trek

Would you walk 150 miles for…

Your family?

Your job?

Your community?

These are all reasons that a group of more than a dozen unemployed workers just made the trek from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to the doorsteps of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

I joined the group at a rally in front of the U.S. Chamber headquarters, an event Chamber Watch helped organize along with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, Shut the Chamber and Move to Amend.

The message the group of brave travelers came with was that the policies being pushed by the U.S. Chamber are benefiting corporations while hurting the poor and the middle class.

A major concern for the group is efforts by the U.S. Chamber that slow the growth of the green sector.

From calling for climate science to be put on trial to petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency not to enforce the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Chamber has spent lots of money muddying the waters about the need for a greener economy.

The U.S. Chamber’s efforts have paid off in a lower level of support for entrepreneurial efforts by Washington for green small businesses — efforts that would bring with them the kind of jobs that would benefit poor people and the middle class – than are given to the fossil fuel industry.

Sometimes, lawmakers and the public seem convinced that job growth is incompatible with green industries.

The reality is that the green economy is one of the best investments we can make as a country. It both benefits the environment AND helps to create jobs.

A University of Massachusetts graphic titled The Truth About Job CreationAs the University of Massachusetts graphic on the left shows, investment in a green economy has the potential to create employment in several different fields.

Not just about us

We also heard from folks at the rally who are concerned that the kinds of policies the U.S. Chamber is pushing for not only hurt the availability of jobs in the present, but also the ability of future generations to get the skills they need to find meaningful employment down the road.

The U.S. Chamber has said it is in favor of cuts that affect a variety of federal programs, some of which benefit the poor and middle class.

Cheri Honkala, national organizer for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, brought her 10-year-old son Guillermo along on the march. She remarked that “there are 40 schools closing in Philadelphia, and kids’ futures and communities are being destroyed by austerity.”

All this brings to light the hypocrisy between what the U.S. Chamber claims to stand for and what it actually does.

Despite claiming to represent small businesses and “American Enterprise,” the U.S. Chamber’s real goal is to fight for policy positions that help its funders—mostly giant corporations and their trade associations — make profits. For the most part, it doesn’t matter much to the U.S. Chamber if those profits are made overseas, or the extent of pollution caused along the way. And it doesn’t matter if the pursuit of profit for the large corporations hurts the country’s poor and middle class.

It was inspiring to see the group of marchers walk so far to carry such an important message.

As I told the crowd at the rally, the more we can educate our fellow Americans about what the U.S. Chamber really stands for, the more quickly we can put ourselves on the path to a stronger economy and a democracy that serves the needs of real people.

Jake Parent is the coordinator of Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch. To learn more about Chamber Watch, follow @uschamberwatch on Twitter and sign up for email updates.