Push for Corporate Immunity Is Blind to Worker Interests

Welcome to the latest edition of “Corporate Accountability, Not Immunity,” a daily tipsheet highlighting key news and important facts on why Congress should not give corporations legal immunity from coronavirus-related harms to workers, consumers, patients and the public. Please send tips, feedback and questions to David Rosen at drosen@citizen.org.

REPUBLICANS SIGNAL THAT WORKERS AND COMMUNITIES MUST SUFFER FOR BUSINESS ELITES: “Mitch McConnell’s liability protection ruse is a refined encapsulation of the wild dishonesty, incoherence and cruelty of the president’s desperate rush to reopen the country,” wrote Will Wilkinson in a recent opinion column in The New York Times. “The Republican Party is broadcasting that it can’t see the difference between the interests of capital and the health and welfare of ordinary working Americans. It’s communicating that fatal losses to workers and their communities are tolerable, but financial losses to the business class are not.”

CORPORATE IMMUNITY IS A LONGTIME CORPORATE AND REPUBLICAN OBJECTIVE; COVID-19 IS THE PRETEXT: The American Legislative Exchange Council, a Koch-backed nonprofit that drafts model bills for state legislators, has pushed for corporate immunity measures on the state level since the early 2000s, part of a broader corporate effort to undercut state tort law. Before that, former President George W. Bush made legislation to undercut consumers’ ability to sue companies over defective products one of the centerpieces of his 1994 multimillionaire-backed gubernatorial campaign. Now, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is cynically using the pandemic as a pretext to advance this long-time corporate goal, in the process rigging our economy further in favor of big business by taking away consumers’ primary tool for holding corporations accountable.

NURSING HOMES LOBBY FOR IMMUNITY INSTEAD OF SAFETY STANDARDS: More than 28,000 people have died from COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, but instead of asking for science-based health and safety standards to protect residents, nursing homes are spending big bucks lobbying for immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits. At the federal level, the nursing home industry has spent more than $4 million on lobbying over the past year. And it is spending big at the state level too, where it is making a big push for immunity from accountability for harm to nursing home residents. That effort has already paid off in at least six states, including New York.