A coalition of labor and consumer groups called yesterday for a special day to be set aside to "expose and repair big business" and released a legislative proposal aimed at curbing corporate abuses.
Led by consumer advocate Ralph Nader and several major union officials, Americans Concerned About Corporate power announced plans for Big Business Day on April 17.
The group also introduced the "Corporate Democracy Act," legislation it said would lead the fight against "crime in the suites" by combatting corporate secrecy and giving shareholders more rights.
"We as a nation need to ask -- who governs our giant corporations, and how do they in turn govern us?" Nader said in announcing the plans.
He said the proposed legislation "would grant greater rights of access and voice to the various constituencies of the giant corporation -- workers, consumers, communities and shareholders.
As for Big Business Day, the goal is "to do for big business what Earth Day, Food Day and Sun Day did to their subjects -- expose abuses and explore alternatives," said Mark Green, director of Nader's Congress Watch and president of Big Business Day's board of directors.
He said the group is planning hundreds of teach-ins, debates and fairs across the country that day. There would also be mock "trials of corrupt companies, nominations for a Corporate Hall of Shame, symbolic bread lines at banks that red-line communities, and a compilation of models of corporate social responsibility," Green said.
Economist and author John Kenneth Galbraith released this statement in support of Big Business Day:
"Because I would like to see big business better understood, I urge that we all take a day to see how it sets prices, persuades consumers, influences legislation and otherwise plans our lives.
In announcing its plans yesterday, the new consumer-labor alliance also released a 127-page report called "The Case for a Corporate Democracy Act," which outlines the goals of the proposed legislation.
"The report," says an introudction, "is based on the conclusion that while the political agenda of the 1970s focuses extensively on the size and abuse of big government, the political agenda of the 1980s should focus on the size and abuse of big business."
Specifically, the proposed law would apply to companies with more than $250 million in assets or sales or more than 5,000 employes.
Two congressmen, Rep. Frank Thompson (-N.J.), a leading supporter of labor, and Rep. Benjamin Rosenthal (D-N.Y.), one of the more outspoken consumer advocates on the Hill said yesterday they would be introducing legislation "along the lines" of the Corporate Democracy Act.