Other Group

Chamber of Progress

The Chamber of Progress is a coalition of technology firms that supports pro-business public policies and left-of-center cultural values. It was created to communicate industry interests to Democratic lawmakers. [1] Chamber of Progress was established in November 2020, and its main office is located in McLean, Virginia. [2][3]

The Chamber’s partners include some of the largest technology firms in Silicon Valley, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as major delivery and transportation service providers such as Uber, Instacart, Grubhub, and Doordash. The Chamber’s founder and chief executive officer is Adam Kovacevich, who previously led the public policy team at Google and served as an aide to several Democratic lawmakers. While the Chamber has claimed that it will not allow its partners to dictate its views and actions, Kovacevich has described the organization as “center-left.” [4] [5]

Policy Advocacy

While CEO Adam Kovacevich has said that Chamber of Progress member corporations “care about progressive goals,” he has also emphasized that the organization is “not reflexively anti-business.” Additionally, the Chamber is preparing for scrutiny of Silicon Valley from lawmakers. Kovacevich has said that “the tech industry’s political honeymoon is over” and that the Chamber will represent the interests of the industry in the event that lawmakers try to strengthen competition laws in order to combat allegedly monopolistic practices by major tech firms. [6]

Chamber of Progress opposes California’s Assembly Bill 5, which originally reclassified most freelancers and independent contractors in the state as full-time employees and required employers to provide them with full-time employee benefits. The organization then supported Proposition 22, a ballot measure that exempted more than 100 jobs originally included in the bill from being reclassified. In March 2021, Kovacevich wrote a blog post celebrating the passage of Proposition 22 and blamed “purists within organized labor” for helping to get Assembly Bill 5 passed in the first place. Kovacevich dismissed criticism of the $200 million that major gig employers spent in support of the ballot measure, claiming that labor union representatives were being “patronizing” and that their response “fails to recognize the reality of mainstream voter sentiment.” [7]

The Chamber opposes changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This law, passed in 1996 by Congress, exempts Internet platforms and service providers from liability in the case that users share harmful content on the premise that the companies serve as neutral platforms, not as publishers which can edit, block, or otherwise discriminate against content. [8] Because platforms can still moderate content at their discretion, some Republican lawmakers have criticized Section 230, claiming social media platforms disproportionately censor right-of-center views. [9]

Chamber of Progress opposed a unionization campaign by the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) at an Amazon facility in Alabama. [10] Amazon employees voted overwhelmingly against unionization, though some RWDSU representatives claimed that Amazon intimidated employees and engaged in “egregious and blatantly illegal” conduct. Amazon rejected the allegations. [11] In a now-deleted Twitter post, Chamber of Progress claimed that the “employees’ rejection of a union drive showed worker satisfaction” and that “progressive goals are being achieved without unionization. [12] Kovacevich claimed that “partisans and union activists” were projecting “their own agendas” onto the failed unionization effort. [13]

Leadership

Adam Kovacevich is the founder and CEO of the Chamber of Progress. He previously worked as the head of public policy at Google and as an aide for several Democratic members of Congress, including former U.S. Representative Cal Dooley (D-CA) and former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT). Kovacevich also formerly worked as an aide to South Carolina State Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum (D). [14]

New Jersey State Senator Troy Singleton (D-Palmyra) and Colorado State Senator Jeff Bridges (D-Arapahoe) are members of the Chamber’s advisory board, which also includes current and former Democratic political operatives, government officials, and tech industry executives. [15]

Controversies

Both left-of-center and right-of-center observers have criticized the Chamber of Progress for allegedly using left-of-center causes as cover to promote the technology industry’s policy objectives. Left-of-center magazine Mother Jones reported that Kovacevich previously supported Republican lawmakers such as U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and U.S. Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) before founding the organization and shifting his focus to influencing Democrats. [16]

Biotechnology entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who wrote a book on the intersection between business interests and left-of-center politics, argued on Fox News that the Chamber was “blowing woke smoke” in order to “deceive the public” about its true objective of promoting the interests of the tech industry. [17]

References

  1.        Rebecca Klar. “Former Google executive launches left-leaning tech coalition.” The Hill. March 29, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://thehill.com/policy/technology/545396-former-google-executive-launches-left-leaning-tech-coalition?rl=1 ^
  2.             “Chamber of Progress.” State Corporation Commission. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://cis.scc.virginia.gov/EntitySearch/BusinessInformation?businessId=11137658&source=FromEntityResult&isSeries=False ^
  3.        Chamber of Progress. Accessed April 17, 2021.

    Homepage

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  4.    “Introducing the Chamber of Progress: A New Industry Coalition Promoting Technology’s Progressive Future.” PR Newswire. March 29, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/introducing-the-chamber-of-progress-a-new-industry-coalition-promoting-technologys-progressive-future-301257114.html ^
  5.       Rebecca Klar. “Former Google executive launches left-leaning tech coalition.” The Hill. March 29, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2021.https://thehill.com/policy/technology/545396-former-google-executive-launches-left-leaning-tech-coalition?rl=1 ^
  6.       Rebecca Klar. “Former Google executive launches left-leaning tech coalition.” The Hill. March 29, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://thehill.com/policy/technology/545396-former-google-executive-launches-left-leaning-tech-coalition?rl=1 ^
  7.            Adam Kovacevich. “Voters Rejected California’s Gig-Work Ban. Will Congressional Democrats Listen?” Medium. March 2, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://medium.com/chamber-of-progress/voters-rejected-californias-gig-work-ban-will-congressional-democrats-listen-855e2a181520 ^
  8.             Rebecca Klar. “Former Google executive launches left-leaning tech coalition.” The Hill. March 29, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://thehill.com/policy/technology/545396-former-google-executive-launches-left-leaning-tech-coalition?rl=1 ^
  9.        Jordan Davidson. “Sen. Grassley Blasts Big Tech Censorship Under ‘Sweeping’ Section 230 Immunity: ‘The System Is Rigged.’” The Federalist. April 13, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://thefederalist.com/2021/04/13/sen-grassley-blasts-big-tech-censorship-under-sweeping-section-230-immunity-the-system-is-rigged ^
  10.        Lauren Kaori Gurley. “World’s Most Powerful Tech Companies Celebrate Bessemer Union Loss.” Vice. April 9, 2021. Accessd April 17, 2021. https://www.vice.com/en/article/bvzg7d/worlds-most-powerful-tech-companies-celebrate-bessemer-union-loss ^
  11. Richard Luscombe. “Amazon rejects claims it intimidated Alabama workers during union vote.” The Guardian. April 11, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/11/amazon-alabama-workers-union-vote ^
  12.        Chamber of Progress. Twitter. April 9, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20210409153308/https://twitter.com/ProgressChamber/status/1380544072486637568 ^
  13.              Lauren Kaori Gurley. “World’s Most Powerful Tech Companies Celebrate Bessemer Union Loss.” Vice. April 9, 2021. Accessd April 17, 2021. https://www.vice.com/en/article/bvzg7d/worlds-most-powerful-tech-companies-celebrate-bessemer-union-loss ^
  14.        “Introducing the Chamber of Progress: A New Industry Coalition Promoting Technology’s Progressive Future.” PR Newswire. March 29, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/introducing-the-chamber-of-progress-a-new-industry-coalition-promoting-technologys-progressive-future-301257114.html ^
  15.        “Introducing the Chamber of Progress: A New Industry Coalition Promoting Technology’s Progressive Future.” PR Newswire. March 29, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/introducing-the-chamber-of-progress-a-new-industry-coalition-promoting-technologys-progressive-future-301257114.html ^
  16.        Dan Friedman. “An Ex-Google Lobbyist Who Backed Jim Jordan Is Leading Big Tech’s Bid to Court the Left.” Mother Jones. April 9, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2021/04/chamber-of-progress-google-facebook-amazon-twitter/ ^
  17.        Joshua Q. Nelson. “Big Tech ‘blowing woke smoke’ with new ‘Chamber of Progress’ coalition: ‘Woke Inc.’ author.” Fox News. March 30, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/big-tech-woke-smoke-chamber-of-progress-coalition ^
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