MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Almost 60 organizations have requested that the Walt Disney Company resign from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Public Citizen, a progressive advocacy group that is a member of the campaign, stated in a news release:
The Walt Disney Company should join other Fortune 500 companies, such as Apple, Pacific Gas & Electric and CVS, that have stopped funding the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for political, policy and moral reasons, almost 60 non-profits wrote in a letter to Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger today. The groups commend Disney for its public commitments to action on climate change and for refusing to depict casual tobacco use in most of its Disney-branded films. However, with its membership and financial support of the Chamber, Disney is helping to bankroll an organization that actively opposes climate change remedies and promotes making a profit from tobacco.
"It becomes tough to take Disney's commitments to public health and the environment seriously when Disney continues funding the pro-tobacco and anti-environmental agenda of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce," said Daniel Dudis, director of Public Citizen's Chamber Watch project. "The Chamber's views do not represent those of Disney, or presumably most of Disney's customers or shareholders. We think it of the utmost importance for companies like Disney to stop funding the Chamber agenda."
Apple, Exelon, CVS, General Mills, Unilever and several other companies have already left the organization due to its reactionary policies, as noted.
The letter, addressed to Disney Chairman and CEO, Robert Iger, contrasts Disney's public policies with the opposite positions taken by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
As you know, Disney has made several commitments related to the fight against climate change. It has committed to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2020. Disney has also signed both the American Business Act on Climate Pledge in support of the Paris Agreement and the CERES Climate Change Declaration.
Disney has also recognized the severe public health threat posed by the use of tobacco products. It has banned depictions of smoking in all G, PG, and PG 13 movies that it produces and it does not allow smoking in its theme parks....
Unfortunately, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is doing everything it can to block efforts to combat both climate change and anti-smoking laws and regulations. It opposes the Paris Agreement that you publicly support, is suing to block the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, consistently lobbies against legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and spends millions of dollars in money on elections ads urging voters to back candidates who support the fossil fuel industry and oppose efforts to combat climate change....
In countries around the world, the Chamber and its affiliates have lobbied against anti-smoking laws and regulations, including working to protect the tobacco industry's youth-marketing tactics....
The campaign also targets other companies, including Gap and Pepsi. Commenting on Gap's membership, John Stewart, deputy campaigns director for Corporate Accountability International, commented in a news release:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce not only does the dirty work of the fossil fuel industry, it works on behalf of nearly every infamous and abusive industry out there, from Big Tobacco to Big Ag. Gap can't have it both ways. To associate with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is to associate with the world's deadliest and most environmentally destructive industries that, without pause, put profits over people and the planet
According to the Guardian US, the influence of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce extends globally:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business organization and represents more than 3m businesses, large and small. Under its president and CEO, Thomas Donohue, who took over the chamber in 1997, it has become a political powerhouse with global influence, although it is secretive about its membership.
Last year alone it spent $104m on lobbying, the most of any lobby group. It has used its influence to fight anti-tobacco legislation across the world.
The Walt Disney Company should take a tip from Tinker Bell and fly away ... from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.