Unions urge Chamber of Commerce to stop lobbying against Defense Production Act
Union leaders called on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to stop lobbying President Trump against using the Defense Production Act (DPA), a law that gives the president broad authority to increase the manufacturing output of critical items in a national emergency.
Business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had been pressing the administration to not use the act but Trump bucked the business community on Friday by using DPA to force General Motors to ramp up production of ventilators.
Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Lee Saunders president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association (NEA), wrote a letter to Chamber CEO Tom Donohue on Sunday.
“We condemn the Chamber’s efforts to lobby President Trump against using the Defense Production Act to direct emergency production of life-saving PPE and medical equipment such as ventilators. In times of extreme national crisis, we must put politics and profits aside, and we must come together to do what’s best for people: that means producing and distributing more equipment, quickly, by any means necessary. Lives literally depend on it,” the letter reads.
The groups applauded Trump’s move towards General Motors on Friday but added that it should only be the beginning of such moves.
“The idea that the Chamber would put bottom-line profits and adherence to some mistaken principle of capitalism ahead of the safety of American workers and the public at large is difficult to fathom,” the letter reads.
The letter noted that the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is causing health care workers to reuse masks and “scavenge for protective equipment.”
“As part of the Defense Production Act, President Trump has the power to prioritize the distribution of existing supplies and accelerate the production of certain products, like the ventilators used to treat the sickest patients with coronavirus and other serious illnesses,” the letter reads.
Trump has also been under pressure from former Vice President Joe Biden, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and others to use the DPA. He tapped White House aide Peter Navarro to coordinate DPA policies on Friday.