Congratulation to all the 102 organizations signing the support letter for corporate whistleblower rights in the Consumer Products Safety commission legislation: Our coalition won! This is a major victory for whistleblower rights in three respects: 1) Grass roots solidarity defeated the National Association of Manufacturers three times since last October when they tried to kill this issue in the back rooms. 2) 20 million private sector workers now have free speech rights, making this the second broadest expansion after 40 million workers obtained them in the Sarbanes Oxley law. 3) This law is being born with corrections already built in for all the SOX growing pains. The new law has the strongest U.S. whistleblower protections ever passed, for corporate or government workers.
Three heroicSenate offices refused to blink or cave no matter how intense the pressure: 1) Senator Daniel Inouye, Chair of the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee. As Chairman, he now has led the successful campaigns for two out of three corporate whistleblower laws that have passed so far in this Congress. We would not have won without his quiet strength and the unwavering commitment of his staff. 2) Senator Mark Pryor. He is carrying on his father’s almost leg endary advocacy for whistleblower rights. He introduced the CPSC whistleblower rights provision and initially recruited GAP’s help. 3) Senator Claire McCaskill. She has been in the Senate less than two years but is the only member to play a front lines leadership role on all three corporate whistleblower rights victories. Her staff prepared the final Senate version that the House accepted. Each of these offices deserve each of our group’s appreciation.
The second special thanks goes to the consumer constituency whose solidarity was the foundation for all GAP’s advocacy. We all should be grateful to the Consumer Federation, Consumers Union, National Consumers League, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG, among others. Out of these groups, only Public Citizen had been involved with whistleblower rights campaigns before. But they all grasped the importance immediately, and like our Senate champions refused to blink.
But, our work is not done: Urge Congress to finish what it’s started extending these same rights to government workers. It only took a day to reach House-Senate agreement on corporate whistleblower rights, but the analogous civil service reform has been bogged down for seven months.
We’re running out of time! The normal etiquette is to wait until winning the critical vote before publicly declaring victory. We expect a House vote this a fternoon, and that will be a sufficient key for locking in victory because the Senate previously voted unanimously for the whistleblower provision. If you want to check its status, you can track it in real time at http://clerk.house.gov/floorsummary/floor.html.
President Bush has not to threatened to veto the bill! This victory happened because of your solidarity. On that score, if you haven’t already joined the petitions to repeat this victory for civil service workers, or for the private sector across-the-board, Natalie Gonzales or Shanna Devine of our staff will be in touch to invite you.