Who do state chambers of commerce represent? Not their members

In cities across America, businesses often look to state chambers of commerce to promote economic growth in their communities, connect with other local business owners, and influence public policy so that they reflect their values, beliefs and concerns, at least that’s what their members are told.

But that is not what is happening. Apparently, it is the political agenda of chambers of commerce and their network of trade groups, Washington pollsters, lobbyists and billionaire ideologues that count more than the priorities of state-owned enterprises.

Right now, the state chambers of commerce from California to Connecticut – coordinated by a DC-area group called the Council of State Chambers – are fighting against the increase in the minimum wage, the guaranteed sick leave. paid and other workplace reforms. Given the significant opposition from state chambers, you can reasonably assume that their campaigning and lobbying reflects the views of most of their business members.

This is not the case, according to a recent Council of State Chambers poll highlighted by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), which shows that members of state chambers overwhelmingly support wage increases. , proof of paid sick leave and other workplace reforms that would help their employees. and their families.

The poll, conducted by LuntzGlobal, the poll research firm of famed pollster and GOP agent Frank Luntz, and commissioned by the Council of State Chambers, found that unlike the US House lobbying agenda and the State Chamber, 80% of business leaders support increasing the minimum wage, 73% support paid sick leave, and 78% support predictive scheduling policies, among other progressive policies on employment. workplace.

In an hour-long video webinar on the survey, LuntzGlobal and the Council advised executives who are key lobbyists for state chambers to pass on messages to help business owners overcome the “empathy” they have. they feel for their employees and advise lobbyists on how to overcome their members’ support for stricter workplace policies in order to comply with a national anti-worker corporate agenda.

In an already divisive political atmosphere, why would chambers of commerce fuel the idea that small, medium, and large businesses disagree with the American people – and its members?

The truth is that state chambers defend corporate interests that are not in line with those of their members. Fueled by funding from billionaires like the Koch brothers, the US House pursues a different and deeper ideological agenda – limiting government regulation and oversight, preventing all levels of government from regulating wages, benefits, health and safety standards and promote the financial interests of companies and their allies.

In this case, you can clearly see the State Chambers being told how to align their lobbying agenda against their members and the majority of the American people and with other Koch-funded groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC ), which provides thousands of state lawmakers with “model” bills to stop, block and delay progress on minimum wages and other family-friendly policies. And this year, the Kochs and their network have pledged to raise and spend nearly $ 1 billion this election season to get politicians to continue that same agenda.

This collusion between state chamber of commerce lobbyists, top GOP operatives and billionaire ideologues is, quite frankly, unreasonable and immoral. He fueled the legislative deadlock to prevent reforms that have real consequences for the millions of Americans who need a raise to support their families, on sick days when they or their child fall. sick and time off when they have a baby.

But it turns out that support for measures to improve the way we work and live today is overwhelming, even among business leaders. And this is really great news. Now we just need to make sure that decision makers across the country know about it.

Lisa Graves, who is currently the Executive Director of CMD

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