Sen. Schumer, Rep. McEachin, progressive and climate advocates speak out against liability waivers in covid stimulus

Watch a recording of today’s tele-press conference here.

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Congressman Donald McEachin (VA-04) joined a tele-press conference on Wednesday with leaders from labor, climate, progressive, and Indigenous organizations to urge Members of Congress to “hold the line” against Senator Mitch McConnell’s attempts to give corporations a so-called “liability shield” and ensure that the next round of stimulus spending benefits people, not polluters. 

The press conference was part of a virtual day of action organized by a number of progressive and climate organizations aimed at generating thousands of phone calls into Congress. Below are excerpts from the tele-press conference. 

“The Republicans are so tied up in an ideological straitjacket they don’t want to spend a nickel on addressing the crisis,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “They are fighting for corporate immunity at the expense of workers, workers who risk their own safety, safety of their families every single day just trying to earn a living. The Republican reckless proposal plays roulette with American lives and the corporations always win.”

“This pandemic is not the time for the GOP to further insulate their corporate friends from any accountability at the expense of working families,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “I look forward to passing into law a bill that stands up for workers and consumers and holds businesses accountable for any covid-19 related issues.”

“Mitch McConnell is much more worried about an imaginary epidemic of lawsuits than he is about the real life pandemic hurting the country,” said Rob Weissman, President of Public Citizen, during the press conference. “If the Republicans succeed in establishing corporate immunity for coronavirus cases, that will be a public health nightmare.”

“This is a continuous attempt to pillage not only the health and safety of workers, but also their dignity,” said Anthony Rogers-Wright, Green New Deal Policy Lead for the Climate Justice Alliance. “It is extremely important right now that we stand with Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Latinx people. We’re getting killed off by this pandemic in conjunction with the toxic policies. We’re being choked out by toxic police, we’re being choked out by toxic policies, we’re being choked out by toxic pollution.” 

“What people need to understand is that we all live downstream,” said Casey Camp-Horinek, member of the Ponca Nation, Native rights activist, Environmental Ambassador and Board Member of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN). “That sacred water which is part of why we are all alive has to be protected from extractive industries. The stimulus bill that they’re talking about now is focused on the fossil fuel industry’s wellbeing, not on the wellbeing of human beings or any of our relatives in nature.”

“This measure brings the oil industry one step closer to avoiding liability not just for covid-19 but the climate crisis. As legal efforts to hold them accountable accelerate, so too have the industry’s efforts to buy themselves a get out of jail free card,” said Carroll Muffett, President and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law. “This bill brings them one step closer with a toe in the door.” 

“Giving immunity to corporations is actually terrible for the whole working class,” said Axel Fuentes, a former Smithfield worker and the ED of Rural Community Workers Alliance in Missouri. “Any bill that is going to exonerate companies from taking responsibility for what is happening after a worker gets sick from covid-19 is really terrible. The workers are feeling hopeless unless our government acts to protect them.”

“The stories on the ground make it clear just how craven this move is,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “What Mitch McConnell is trying to do with one L in his HEALS Act is actually putting a heel on the head of every single worker and family in America.”

“Passage of this bill clearly will worsen the already dangerous conditions in workplaces across America,” said Dr. David Michaels, Professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and longest serving head of OSHA in the agency’s history. “The bill actually handcuffs OSHA and state OSHA agencies from doing anything to protect workers from covid-19 years into the future.” 

Contact: Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722, [email protected]

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