Americans' Rights Under Attack From a Surprising Source
During its recent Legal Reform Summit, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) revealed interesting findings about the actions of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business organization representing some 3 million businesses. These findings were presented in a powerful presentation entitled, "Top 10 Ways the U.S. Chamber Hurts Americans."1
Through its research, the AAJ has determined that the Chamber is threatening Americans' basic rights in these ways:
1. The U.S. Chamber regularly fights to weaken regulations and lessen the accountability demanded of its big bank Wall Street members. When the stock market failed in 2008, the Chamber was among the first to make the case for widespread, unconditional bailouts for the big banks.
2. The Chamber has fought to defeat policies protecting the environment, even threatening to sue the EPA. A number of organizations such as Apple, PG&E and Exelong have left the Chamber over its stance on climate change.
3. The Chamber heavily lobbies government to restrict Americans' ability to sue corporations that manufacture products and/or services that pose a serious threat to citizens.
4. Though they claim to represent all businesses, major corporations dominate the Chamber's agenda. Many state and local chambers have chosen to leave the national chamber feeling it is no longer focused on their concerns.
5. Foreign organizations often are given priority over U.S. organizations. For example, the Chamber didn't want to limit America's dependence on foreign oil and labeled measures to restrict foreign oil imports as "job killing energy taxes."
6. The Chamber heavily and secretly funds candidates in state elections who favor the interests of large corporations.
7. The Chamber has been linked with efforts to tamper with juries, and regularly defends large corporations accused of such actions.
8. The Chamber supports and defends major polluters of America's natural resources. For example, the Chamber fought to thwart punishment for British Petroleum after the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
9. The Chamber pushes hard in favor of forced arbitration of legal cases, limiting Americans' right to seek justice in a court of law. Often, these arbitration clauses are hidden in the fine print of long contracts that the customer doesn't notice until it is too late.
10. The Chamber pushes money from Big Business into government, providing support for initiatives that are unpopular with the public, but that support the agenda of large companies with deep pockets.
As a law firm that often represents clients who have been harmed by dangerous products and services, Bachus & Schanker, LLC is alarmed at the actions of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It seems clear from the Chamber's recent annual Legal Reform Summit that the organization aims to change policies to thwart Americans rights.
For more information about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and to view the American Association of Justice PowerPoint presentation on this subject, we encourage you to visit www.justice.org/uschamber.
The American Association for Justice and we at Bachus & Schanker, LLC continue to watch the situation with the U.S. Chamber with interest and concern. We must all be diligent in defending the rights and freedoms we all hold dear against all foes, even the unexpected ones like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.