March 16, 2012
During its Winter 2012 Executive Council meeting, the AFL-CIO issued a strong statement against Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that “has opened the floodgates to massive spending by corporations and even more so by wealthy donors.”
“They are pouring money into our electoral system and threaten to drown out the voices of hard-working Americans. Common-sense restrictions on their spending are needed, along with robust disclosure of their contributions and expenditures—including their contributions to organizations engaged in electoral activity.”
About so-called “corporate personhood“, the AFL-CIO said business corporations should be restored to their proper role as engines of commerce, calling the notion that they should have the same legal rights and protection as actual, flesh-and blood human beings “absurd”.
“The AFL-CIO also supports reforms aimed at restoring business corporations to their proper role as commercial institutions and limiting their influence in the political sphere. Business corporations are not people—they are manmade creatures of law that exist to generate economic activity and create jobs and income in communities. The notion that they should enjoy the same rights and protections as natural persons is absurd and it is destructive to our democracy. At the same time, for more than a century, corporations have enjoyed certain constitutional protections, such as due process protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, which are consistent with basic American values. We support reforms, including changes to our tax laws and corporate laws, that address corporate dominance of our political system and that restore corporations to their proper role in our democracy.”
AFL-CIO recognizes that Congressional action alone may not be enough to undo the damage done by Citizens United, and that a constitutional amendment may be necessary:
“To earn our support, any such amendment must be carefully and narrowly crafted to protect our democracy from the economic power of the 1%, while at the same time protecting the public’s right to organize politically through democratic organizations and movements.”