Earlier this week, “Equal Pay Day” marked the amount of time into a new year a woman is estimated to need to work to make up for the pay gap between genders. Yet, legislation to right this imbalance failed in the U.S. Senate and in the House of Representatives. As women’s rights advocates fight to end pay inequality, there’s a less known problem that’s affecting women: forced arbitration.
Last month, Americans celebrated the achievements of females during Women’s History Month, including our partners in the Fair Arbitration Now coalition who joined together to highlight the special problem of the impact of forced arbitration on women.
The battle for women’s rights is an ongoing campaign, and we have seen hard-fought successes. Through a series of landmark cases starting in the 1970’s, the concept of Equal Protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as codified by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was firmly established as law of the land to treat women as equal to men. While the struggle there continues, women’s rights are also affected by our diminishing right to access the court system. The Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants all citizens the right to a jury trial. Yet corporations consistently have been allowed to thwart that right by inserting arbitration clauses in contracts for employment and consumer products such as credit cards, cell phones, nursing homes, and even home construction.
Do you think big tax breaks for big corporations should end? Do you think large multinational corporations should pay their fair share of the costs needed to provide essential government services?
If the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gets its way, we’ll be stuck with the current status quo, where corporations are allowed to ship profits overseas to tax havens and game the system to pay little or no taxes. According to a new report, the Chamber has lobbied more intensely than all but one entity, General Electric, to renew a package of lapsed tax breaks, known as “tax extenders,” that could amount to $700 billion in lost revenue over 10 years.
Chamber lobbyists appeared 789 times in lobbying reports on renewing these tax breaks – an average of more than one appearance in the lobbying reports per weekday – in the 33 months between 2011 and 2013 covered by the report. On top of that, each lobbying report represents from one to dozens of contacts with members of Congress and their staffs during the quarter it was filed. The next highest number of appearances after the Chamber’s 789 was Hewlett-Packard with 372.
In addition to its number of appearances, the Chamber spent significantly more money lobbying for tax extenders than any company. It spent $254.6 million, which was 31 percent of what the top 30 organizations cumulatively spent. The next highest spender was General Electric, at $61.4 million, followed by Goldman Sachs, at $50.7 million. In total 373 organizations lobbied on the tax extenders, spending an average of $7.8 million – 3 percent of what the Chamber spent.
Public Citizen supports mechanisms established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that will enable the movement toward state-level single-payer systems, which the law’s waiver process enables, even though we do not endorse the ACA as a whole. States that want to establish stronger programs than the federal system will be able to using the waiver process when it becomes available to states in 2017. By establishing state level single-payer systems, we hope to clear a path to eventually move toward Medicare-for- all at the federal level.
Although Public Citizen endorses moving altogether away from an employer-sponsored health insurance system and toward a single-payer system, the debate over current policies that are intended to increase Americans’ access to health care should at least be based on accurate information. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has engaged in an aggressive messaging and lobbying campaign to delay and potentially repeal a mandate in the ACA for businesses to provide health insurance benefits to their employees.
This campaign is based on exaggerated claims and misinformation.
Last night my colleague Christine Hines and I hosted an online conversation about one of the most insidious threats facing consumers: forced arbitration clauses.
If you missed the conversation, check it out below:
Many people never think to read the gobs of fine print in contracts for things like cell phones and credit cards, but companies are increasingly using those types of contracts to restrict our access to the justice system.
This year opens yet another chapter in the ongoing battle to achieve meaningful disclosure of corporate political spending. Ever since 10 law professors filed a petition at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asking the agency to require publicly traded companies to disclose information on their political spending, Public Citizen, along with our allies in the Corporate Reform Coalition, have been pushing to make the rule a reality.
“Full disclosure of corporate political spending is imperative to ensure all investors have equal access to accurate, complete, and timely information about the corporations in which they are invested,” wrote Kander. He added, “In my judgment, there is no doubt that reasonable and responsible corporate transparency – including with respect to political spending – is in the best interests of investors, companies, and the general public.”