November 2010

From the Officers
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A Call for Economic Patriotism

I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stuck its hand out to foreign banks and corporations begging for donations—even as the Chamber was spending millions on attack ads against true champions of working families in the midterm elections.

At least $300,000 from India and Bahrain, a small nation in the Middle East, ended up in the Chamber's general account, the same account that financed the Chamber's work to defeat a bill in Congress to eliminate tax advantages for companies that outsource jobs.

Soliciting donations from foreign entities for use in domestic elections violates U.S. law. The Chamber of Commerce says that the money it received from overseas interests isn't being used in campaigns, even though the cash was deposited in the same fund that sponsored election ads.

So are we to trust the word and credibility of an organization whose CEO, Tom Donahue, claimed in 2004, that "Outsourcing has made the manufacturing process more efficient and productive, which has helped consumers and our overall economy?" Our cover story outlines how 26,000 manufacturing plants have shut down since 2001. That's right, 26,000! And the Chamber claims that's been "good" for our overall economy.

Groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Builders and Contractors outspent unions and our supporters and allies 10 to 1 in 2010. But the Chamber's efforts to amass foreign cash and to refuse to disclose many of its donors are signs of weakness, not strength. Like our cover story says, polling shows a growing bipartisan consensus for holding China's feet to the fire on currency reform, for the negotiation of trade agreements that are fair to workers on each side and for a revival of American manufacturing.

Whether the candidates we support win or lose in November, the labor movement's call for economic patriotism is the most powerful tool that we can wield to win new friends, isolate our big money adversaries and build the kind of recovery that our nation's working families deserve.

Also: Lee: Time to Rebuild America

Edwin D. Hill
International President