EMERGENCY ACTION ALERT!
You can make a difference in protecting America’s families from safety hazards in 15,000 products.
DON’T LET CONGRESS SELL YOU A PHONY REFORM: DEMAND WHISTLEBLOWER RIGHTS IN S. 2045/H.R. 4040
If you are an organization: Join the 68 groups already expressing solidarity with the whistleblowers defending America’s families. By 3:00 PM on Monday July 21, write to GAP at firstname.lastname@example.org, and have your organization join the below petition.
Last fall Congress reacted to “killer toys” threats by promising to strengthen the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) so it replaces window dressing with genuine protection for America’s families. Throughout that time the Government Accountability Project has been leading a campaign by good government, consumer and other groups to include protection for whistleblowers as a cornerstone of the reform, because the CPSC will never have the resources to enforce new safety standards without help from employees who daily will implement and defend them in practice. In response to a petition by 42 citizen organizations, the Senate agreed and unanimously adopted “best practices” rights.
Industry lobbyists, however, convinced the House not to include any witness protection in its version of the bill. There still was no House commitment in the days approaching today’s July 17 final “conference committee” meeting to hammer out a final bill. On July 16 a swelling citizen’s movement of 68 groups urged Congress to protect whistleblowers, or the new safety rules would not be worth the paper they’re written on. The letter, solidarity from all consumer groups, and efforts by dedicated Senate offices has earned a reprieve. Today the House and Senate conferees instructed their staffs to work further on this issue to seek agreement by next Tuesday. We need your help.
Why are whistleblower rights necessary for consumer safety laws? Federal inspectors are hopelessly overextended, and cannot possibly catch product safety violations proactively. The only way this law will matter in practice is through help by whistleblowers who serve as the public’s eyes and ears. But right now they can be fired at will for disclosing safety violations to regulators, the public, or even as messengers of bad news within their own companies. To illustrate, in the absence of rights whistleblowers have been fired or harassed out of their jobs for challenging the following misconduct with life and death consequences:
· brittle plastic that could maim/kill infants in stationary play centers if it snaps;
· light fixtures flunking federal safety standards and sold without prior testing;
· continued sales of faulty home furnace ignition devices that already had caused a fire;
· sales of faulty wiring that turned smoke detectors into fire hazards;
· refusal to recall child safety products despite tests where subgroups of consumers relying on them consistently would have died.
These examples are just the tip of a lethal iceberg that will remain after Congress takes credit for reform, if employees do not have the legally-protected right to help enforce the law.
In the last year, Congress has passed “best practice” whistleblower rights for truck drivers, railroad workers and defense contractors. Why wouldn’t it give the same rights to those who defend America’s families from retail products that could threaten our loved ones’ safety countless times every day?
How you can help: If you are an individual: Call the U.S. Capitol (202-224-3121) and ask to be connected with Representatives John Dingell, Bobby Rush, Ed Whitfield and Joseph Barton, in that order of priority. Tell them that to get credit for stronger consumer protection they must protect the whistleblowers. Let them know that their law will be a fraudulent reform, if employees can be fired at will for helping to enforce it.
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