fresh voices from the front lines of change







The Chamber of Commerce–that’s the U.S. Chamber of Commerce–proved once again how anti-American it is when it comes to supporting U.S. industry.

In Findlay, Ohio, unions had been organizing a parade and all-day event for this Saturday to highlight American-made products and the need for U.S. trade and economic policies that reward job growth in this country. The unions worked hard to get the business community involved and spent months meeting with the city’s Republican mayor, who supported the plans.

But in the end, GreaterFindayInc., the local Chamber arm, killed the Heart of Commerce and Community Celebration. Says Donnie Blatt, United Steelworkers (USW) Rapid Response coordinator for District 1:

GreaterFindlayInc. did everything they could to sabotage us. They told business not to cooperate with us.

Looks like GreaterFindlay also put a lot of pressure on Mayor Pete Sehnert, who now says the city will hold a similar event next year-but without the participation of unions in organizing it.

Seems GreaterFindlay now has the mayor just where they want him. (To e-mail GreaterFindlay, you need to fill out a form–here–and submit it.) According to the local newspaper:

“Basically, Findlay’s a non-union, Republican area and mostly what we had were Democratic speakers and union people,” Sehnert said. “It’s not what I had in mind.”

Someone could infer from Sehnert’s statement that a pro-America, buy-America celebration isn’t supported by Republicans. Because the Greater Findlay Chamber of Commerce rejected an event that would have opened with a parade of U.S.-made, union-made Harley-Davidsons and classic American autos driving down Main Street, alongside floats showcasing American-made products. Speakers would have included U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Betty Sutton, the state attorney general and state treasurer. Blatt says Gov. Ted Strickland was thinking of speaking as well.

The state’s oldest manufacturing firm planned to join the festivities, with its owner speaking about the importance of keeping manufacturing in Ohio. USW District 1 planned to give out free hotdogs and hamburgers.

Blatt and Rod Nelson, president of USW Local 207L, and Rob Greer, USW Rapid Response coordinator, met weekly with the mayor over two months, constantly reiterating that they did not want the Heart of Commerce and Community Celebration to be solely a “union event” but sought participation by the local business community.

Their goal from the start was to ensure that local business played a key role in the event, where they could display “made in Ohio” products to offer consumers locally made options. Says Blatt:

We told the mayor: “We don’t want this to be a union event. We want this to be a celebration of American manufacturing, a celebration of American workers. We want this to be a community celebration highlighting the need to keep good jobs in the U.S. and in Ohio.

But Blatt says the Chamber of Commerce didn’t see it that way.

The mayor came back repeatedly and said the GreaterFindleyInc. were raising hell with him because they said this is a union event.

I said the only reason this is a union event is that they’re making it a union event.

Blatt and the union members who worked so hard to pull together this event did so because we need jobs in this country. Just ask the 26 million U.S. jobless workers who need jobs or full-time work but cannot find it. Blatt summarizes the event this way:

We wanted us all to come together to show the importance of keeping jobs in America.

Clearly, once again, keeping jobs in America is not an economic strategy that interests the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Let’s just delete the “U.S.” portion of that name, shall we?)

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