Senate to Debate Business Immunity; Opponents Take to Twitter

CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY, NOT IMMUNITY

Welcome to the first edition of “Corporate Accountability, Not Immunity,” a daily tipsheet highlighting key news and important facts on why corporations shouldn’t get 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.

SENATE HEARING TODAY: The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing today at 2:30 p.m. EDT on “Examining Liability During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Expect gripping testimony from United Food and Commercial Workers’ International President Marc Perrone, Georgetown University Law Center Professor David Vladeck and the National Employment Law Project’s Executive Director Rebecca Dixon. Public Citizen’s Counsel for Civil Justice and Consumer Rights Remington A. Gregg will submit written testimony.

EXCERPT FROM DIXON’S TESTIMONY: “We cannot successfully reopen businesses and public institutions if workers and consumers aren’t safe and don’t have confidence in their safety,” Dixon will tell the committee. “In order to achieve that safety and confidence, workers and consumers must be able to hold employers accountable for unsafe workplaces and other violations of the law. Were Congress to grant employers the immunity that some have long sought, it would create disincentives for even law-abiding employers to protect their workers – producing a race-to-the-bottom for workplace standards – and would cause a health and safety disaster, with new hot spots across sectors and spread across communities.”

OPPONENTS TO LIVE-TWEET THE HEARING: In April, 118 organizations called on Congress to oppose any attempt to let corporations off the hook for endangering the public, and many of these same groups will be live-tweeting the hearing. The message: Once again, big businesses want immunity for acting unreasonably, and once again, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Republicans in Congress are pulling out all the stops to take care of them, while tens of millions of Americans are out of a job and struggling to pay the bills.

EVEN REPUBLICANS OPPOSE IMMUNITY: Even after hearing arguments on both sides, 69% of voters think that giving corporations and businesses guaranteed immunity from coronavirus lawsuits is a bad idea, according to the latest poll from Hart Research – including 60% of Republicans and 58% of Trump supporters.