International Women’s Day Bonus: The Top 5 Ways the US Chamber Stands Against Women

It’s that time of year again: Today, March 8th, marks the annual International Women’s Day, celebrated in thousands of events across the globe.  And while the women of US Chamber Watch aren’t expecting roses and a ticker-tape parade, we’re at least grateful that the US Chamber will likely refrain, this year, from denigrating our right to equal pay (that particular slam is reserved for the anniversary of women’s suffrage) or telling us that we should focus instead on getting a man (sadly, not a joke).

That’s not to say that Tommy Donohue and the Boys of the US Chamber have moved into the 21stcentury, or that their policies are ones that women of a modern age can truly rally behind. Not unless you’re the type of woman who really dislikes access to health care, or has a notable aversion to paid family leave. Or maybe, when you hear about Wal-Mart’s fight against women in the largest class action, sex discrimination case in history (a case for which the Chamber filed an amicus brief siding with Wal-Mart top brass), you find yourself rooting against the minimum-wage workers. In that case, this post probably isn’t for you.

But for the rest of us who wish the Chamber had a bit of a prouder record in standing up for the millions of women across America who own a business or just work for one, here’s our International Women’s Day gift to you: The Top 5 Ways in Which the Chamber Stands Against Women.

The U.S. Chamber’s Top 5 Policies Against American Women

1. The Chamber calls women’s fight for pay equity a “fetish for money,” and suggests that women should focus on “choosing the right partner at home.”  In August of 2010, the  U.S. Chamber of Commerce was forced to apologize for a post on the U.S. Chamber’s blog, ChamberPost, in which author Brad Peck scoffed that women’s fight for pay equity was nothing more than a “fetish for money,” and said women complaining about their pay should focus instead on “choosing the right partner at home.”  Both Peck and the Chamber’s COO, David Chavern, issued apologies for the offensive blogposts.  [ChamberPost, 8/18/10 ChamberPost, 8/19/10 ]

2. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which Planned Parenthood calls “the greatest single advance for women’s access to health care in 45 years.”  U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said about the repeal of health care reform, “We see the upcoming House vote as an opportunity for everyone to take a fresh look at healthcare reform.”  [Reuters, 1/14/11 ; Planned Parenthood Press Release, 1/14/11]

3. The Chamber Opposes Paycheck Fairness.  The U.S. Chamber opposed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which restored the rights of victims of pay discrimination to get compensation for their losses.  The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act reversed a Supreme Court decision that prohibited victims of pay discrimination from suing their employers unless they filed the complaint within 180 days beginning, even if the discrimination was discovered much later.  The U.S. Chamber wrote, in opposing the law, that the bill overreaches and that the underlying Supreme Court decision which the bill sought to correct was “a common sense result that should be supported.”  [Letter of the United States Chamber of Commerce to Members of the United States Senate, 1/14/09;  New York Times, 1/29/09  ]

4. The Chamber sides against women in the largest sex discrimination case in history.  The U.S. Chamber has filed a amicus brief on behalf of Walmart in the sex discrimination case brought against the giant retailer.  Wal-mart was sued by employees who claimed that Wal-Mart paid female workers less than male colleagues and gave them fewer promotions.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has filed an amicus brief on behalf of Wal-mart seeking to throw out the certification of the class action lawsuit.  [National Chamber Litigation Center, Amicus brief, Wal-mart Stores Inc. v. Dukes et al , Docket # 10-277  ]

5. The Chamber Opposes Paid Family Leave. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s website, one of its labor policy priorities for 2010 was to “Oppose efforts to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by covering smaller businesses and making leave paid.” [U.S. Chamber of Commerce website, Accessed 8/18/10]

As for those events taking place across the globe today? You can find them happening everywhere from  Afghanistan to Zambia. Just don’t look for one to be taking place at 1600 H Street, NW in Washington, DC—the US Chamber headquarters.

This blogpost is also posted on FireDogLake

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