Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chamber of Commerce Chief Fights Extra Business Costs

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chamber of Commerce Chief Fights Extra Business Costs

Article excerpt

JAMES K. BAKER - not the Secretary of State - could be called the principal spokesman for the American business community. He's this year's chairman of the United States Chamber of Commerce, which bills itself as the world's largest federation of business companies and associations. And, as might be anticipated, he's pro-business.

In an interview here, Mr. Baker, who is also chief executive officer of Arvin Industries Inc., an auto parts maker in Columbus, Ohio, outlined Chamber goals for enhancing and retaining a good business climate. Seeks veto of civil rights bill

He, for example, opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1992, which has been passed by both the Senate and the House. It is awaiting consideration by a conference committee when Congress returns to Washington in September.

"This is antibusiness legislation," Baker says. The Chamber charges that the bill will force businessmen to adopt quota systems for hiring minorities and women or face expensive and burdensome lawsuits.

The sponsors of the bill, Senator Edward Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts and Rep. Augustus Hawkins (D) of California, made some language changes in an attempt to deal with such charges.

But Fred Krebs, a Chamber official, calls them "feel-good amendments.... They are there for political cover."

At present, if an employer is found guilty of discrimination, a court can impose "make-whole remedies." The employer must provide financial compensation and/or job reinstatement. The new law will provide for jury trails and punitive as well as compensatory damages. Mr. Krebs calls these "make-rich remedies." He predicts the legislation will be a "lawyers' relief bill" that will introduce into employer-employee relations something like the tort system for product liability and malpractice lawsuits in the medical field.

The Chamber is sending mail to many of its 180,000 member businesses and organizations in the next few weeks to drum up support for a presidential veto. Opposes large postal rate increase

Another Chamber goal is to trim a planned postal rate increase to "something more acceptable," Baker says. "The Chamber is going to fight it tooth and toenail."

Last March, the US Postal Service requested an increase in the cost of a first class stamp to 30 cents from its present 25 cents. …

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