Congress is considering a bill that threatens the rights and privacy of asbestos victims and their family members. The bill was written by corporate lobbyists for asbestos companies – the very same asbestos companies that caused an epidemic of asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma all over the United States. As we know, asbestos is still legal in the United States, and with a new report finding that 12,000 to 15,000 Americans are killed every year by asbestos diseases, Congress should prevent asbestos exposure by demanding transparency from asbestos corporations instead of granting a handout to the industry that poisoned and killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. Congress needs to hear from you on this legislation and why it should be stopped! Read below to learn what is happening and what you can do.
What would H.R. 526 & S. 357 do?
The bill is called the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act) H.R. 526 and S. 357. It does three things:
- It would require private asbestos bankruptcy trusts to disclose asbestos cancer patients’ personal information on a publicly searchable database which can be accessed by anyone, including insurers, employers, and even financial scammers trolling for victims. Exposed information would include the victims’ name, work and exposure history, and medical diagnoses.
- The FACT Act will delay compensation for asbestos victims who frequently only have months to live by granting asbestos corporations the right to demand any information from any trust at any time. This will force trusts to focus on meeting unnecessary demands of asbestos corporations instead of providing for victims and their families.
- The bill will eventually deny compensation to victims and their families by forcing unnecessary burdens on private asbestos bankruptcy trusts. This will severely deplete trust assets that are already only able to pay pennies on the dollar to Americans poisoned and killed by asbestos corporations.
This bill has been strongly opposed by asbestos victims, their families, and organizations like the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO). But to this date, Congress has refused to allow asbestos victims to testify about their concerns with the bill.
What You As An Individual Can Do
Tell Congress to stand up for their constituents by keeping Americans safe from deadly toxins, not violating asbestos victims’ privacy and delaying compensation for families facing exorbitant medical bills.
Contact your members of Congress by filling out the short form on the EWG Action Fund website.
No one dying from cancer should be forced by Congress to choose between protecting their family’s privacy and ensuring their family has some financial security when they are gone. Tell your Member of Congress to OPPOSE the FACT Act.
What Your Organization Can Do — Write to the Representatives of your Members
We, the undersigned organization concerned with occupational health and safety and dedicated to serving our nation’s trade unionists, strongly oppose H.R. 526 and S. 357 the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act,” introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX-27) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Both bills will drain critical resources that have been set aside to secure justice for victims of asbestos diseases while simultaneously publishing those victims’ personal information on the internet.
Asbestos is a lethal substance found in nearly all homes, schools and other buildings built before the early 1980s. Asbestos was and remains today a component in automobile parts, most notably brake pads, exposing those who make and repair cars to the deadly substance. In addition, asbestos was a component in the production of ships for decades, and it remains in many shipyards and aboard countless vessels. When asbestos fibers are released into the air, which often occurs when structures are renovated, demolished, or damaged by fire, they can be easily inhaled and lodged into the lungs. A worker’s single exposure can cause asbestos-related disease, including deadly and painful asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Millions of American workers from various professions have been regularly exposed to asbestos throughout their careers, causing many to fall ill and die from mesothelioma, asbestosis and other diseases associated with asbestos.
In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) “Work-Related Lung Disease Surveillance Report” for 2007, the latest year available, noted that the construction industry accounted for nearly one quarter of deaths due to asbestosis and 15 percent of deaths from malignant mesothelioma. The building trades of plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters were the most prevalently listed jobs for deaths attributed to asbestosis and were among the top of the list for mesothelioma as well.
Victims of asbestos exposure in the workplace, and all others harmed from the deadly product, are entitled to compensation from the companies that caused their illnesses. Both H.R. 526 and S. 357, however, would give companies an unfair advantage over asbestos victims seeking justice for their injuries. Speciously touted as a “transparency bill,” the measure is designed to help the asbestos industry avoid paying victims through delay tactics and a waste of scarce trust resources set aside for victims. To add insult to injury, H.R. 526 and S. 357 also would expose those same victims to unwanted invasions of privacy and possibly identity theft by publishing their claim information and other personal facts, including part of their Social Security numbers, on the Internet. Our nation’s trade workers dying of asbestos disease contracted from workplace exposure deserve more respect and better treatment from Congress.
That is why we, the undersigned organizations, strongly oppose this legislation. We further call on members of Congress to stand with our nation’s workforce and other victims of asbestos diseases and oppose H.R. 526 and S. 357.
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