As the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations, the US Chamber has considerable clout. However, SC&RA will not merely sit on the sidelines and watch as the US Chamber aggressively promotes its agenda. We will continue to work hard in meeting the specialized needs of our own membership.
Here are a few of the key challenges listed in the Chamber's report, along with steps SC&RA is taking to proactively address the issues facing members.
• Attracting, educating, and empowering workers for successful careers. Through the SC&R Foundation, the association promotes career opportunities via local career education days for teachers and counselors and job fairs for students. To enhance these efforts, the foundation is producing a “Moving the World” recruitment booklet to be used with the video of the same name. The foundation also has awarded over $200,000 scholarships and grants to students majoring in subjects relevant to a career in the industry served by SC&RA.
• Securing our nation with clean, affordable energy. During the 2008 January Board & Committee Meetings, the SC&RA Board agreed to support the Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay Transportation Partnership.
This innovative public-private initiative supports freight shippers, carriers and logistics companies in setting and achieving ambitious goals that increase fuel efficiency and reduce emission of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. SmartWay aims to eliminate 33 to 66 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and up to 200,000 tons of nitrogen emissions per year by 2012.
• Modernizing our infrastructure to free the flow of people and commerce. SC&RA will continue pushing for full funding for highway and transit programs as provided under current law and will begin to frame the debate on a multiyear surface transportation reauthorization bill in 2009. Traffic congestion costs America $200 billion annually, according to the Department of Transportation. SC&RA members benefit doubly from modernization efforts by playing a major role in the construction of infrastructure projects and then using the improved infrastructure to move specialized loads and equipment more safely, expeditiously and cost-effectively.
• Creating American jobs by expanding fair trade. Because SC&RA has members in 47 nations, the emphasis here actually is on giving members everywhere a fair chance. Unfortunately, that is not always the case in today's global economy. Of particular concern is China, where some companies have demonstrated a willingness to take shortcuts in research and development by closely copying some of the equipment manufactured by our members. Other concerns are centered on tax, tariff and trade policies that provide an unfair advantage for the Chinese. Our Allied Industries Group agreed during the January Board & Committee Meetings to respond to this threat. This topic will be among those considered at the World Crane and Transport Summit in the fall of 2009.
• Ending lawsuit abuse and ensuring litigation fairness. Lawsuit abuse affects every business and every American, but small companies bear 69 percent of the $143 billion annual costs that the tort system imposes on businesses. SC&RA members of all sizes may be susceptible to lawsuits. In addition to supporting the general efforts of the US Chamber of Commerce, SC&RA also is working with the industry-specific efforts of the American Trucking Associations to reform the nation's tort system.
In his annual State of American Business speech, US Chamber President Thomas J. Donohue said these “pressing issues have the potential to unleash the U.S economy or, if left unaddressed, cripple it.” We agree.