Advocates Object to Leader McConnell’s Demand for Blanket Corporate Liability Immunity
Civil rights, workers’ rights, and civil justice groups reject inclusion of provisions that endanger employees and consumer safety
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Peter Knudsen, American Association for Justice, [email protected], (202) 812-8969
Shin Inouye, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, [email protected], (202) 869-0398
David Rosen, Public Citizen, [email protected], (202) 588-7742
Keiana Greene-Page, SEIU, [email protected], (202) 679-6569
WASHINGTON— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has unveiled his plan to give sweeping liability immunity to corporations that fail to take reasonable steps to keep workers and consumers safe. As the COVID-19 crisis worsens thanks to the current administration’s failure to offer clear and enforceable standards, blanket immunity would actually increase infection rates, make consumers and workers feel less safe, and prolong the pandemic. Strong opposition to this dangerous proposal from consumers, workers, communities of color, and more were discussed on a press call with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, SEIU, Public Citizen, and the American Association for Justice.
Analysis of publicly available data proves that contrary to Leader McConnell’s claims, there is no wave of lawsuits threatening an economic recovery. The real threat, both to the economy and to public health, would be shielding corporations from accountability when they fail to take reasonable steps to keep people safe.
Audio of the call is available here.
Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen, said, “Contrary to McConnell’s claims, the only pandemic we have right now is the one that has killed more than 140,000 Americans. That said, McConnell and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have never seen a crisis they are unwilling to exploit to achieve their long-term goal of providing corporations with immunity from liability. As he has done for decades, McConnell has pushed to prevent people from suing companies that have injured them or violated their rights. He continues to do so, rather than engage in meaningful discussions about how to better protect working people, consumers and patients from the long-term health and economic impacts of this crisis.”
LaShawn Warren, executive vice president of government affairs, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said, “This administration has failed to offer clear and enforceable standards to keep the public safe, and now Senate Republicans want to offer blanket immunity to corporations. That would increase infection rates, make consumers and workers less safe, and prolong the pandemic. It is another example of how some lawmakers want to place profits over the people. No one should have to choose between their health and safety and their livelihood. Congress’s highest priority should be to keep all communities safe and healthy, particularly those who are most vulnerable: Black and Brown communities, people with disabilities, immigrants, children, elderly people, people who are detained or incarcerated, and those who already struggle to make ends meet.”
“Today, workers are leading a Strike for Black Lives to protest racial injustice and demand basic protections on the job. Shamefully, Republican leaders are reacting to this historic moment by trying to strip workers of the few legal protections available to them under state and federal law. Congress should be enacting emergency legislation now to protect all workers, not giving corporate special interests sweeping immunity from responsibility when they endanger workers,” said Nicole Berner, General Counsel, SEIU.
“This corporate giveaway from Senator McConnell will undoubtedly sicken and kill more Americans. Instead of showing real leadership and putting health and safety first, Sen. McConnell would rather give blanket immunity to corporations that act unreasonably and expose their workers and consumers to COVID-19. This is exactly the opposite of what Congress should be doing and what the American people demand,” said Julia Duncan, Senior Director of Government Affairs, AAJ.
“I’m speaking out against this dangerous corporate immunity plan because I have seen firsthand the kind of dangerous behaviors and practices that it would protect. Even after hearing my pleas and receiving warnings from local officials, my employer continued to cut corners and put all of its employees at risk. I’m hoping to hold Amazon accountable in court – immunity would take that right away from me, and put more people like me at risk,” said Chiyomi Brent, Amazon Fresh worker currently bringing suit against Amazon.
The American Association for Justice works to preserve the constitutional right to trial by jury and to make sure people have a fair chance to receive justice through the legal system when they are injured by the negligence or misconduct of others—even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.
Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. Public Citizen defends democracy, resists corporate power and works to ensure that government works for the people – not for big corporations.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) unites 2 million diverse members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. SEIU members working in the healthcare industry, in the public sector and in property services believe in the power of joining together on the job to win higher wages and benefits and to create better communities while fighting for a more just society and an economy that works for all of us, not just corporations and the wealthy. www.seiu.org