Sierra Club, AFL-CIO Blast Bush

The AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club called President Bush's latest\r\naction to suspend the contractor rule "irresponsible" because they\r\nsay it will reward companies violating environmental and labor laws.

Environmental and labor advocates expressed disappointment that President Bush would reward companies violating environmental and labor laws by making it easier for them to win federal contracts.

Standing outside the U.S. Senate, Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson said taxpayer money shouldn''t support lawbreakers.

"President Bush''s decision to allow chronic lawbreakers to receive our tax dollars is simply irresponsible," Pope said. "President Bush''s action threatens our air and water, endangers America''s workers, and undermines the very protections that keep our environment clean and our workers safe."

The federal government yearly provides $210 billion worth of federal contracts.

A rule signed by President Clinton in June would have directed that this money go only to companies that follow federal laws.

Prospective contractors would be assessed on whether they had violated federal laws, but President Bush has suspended that rule and now proposes doing away with it altogether.

"American taxpayers will be outraged to learn that, thanks to the Bush Administration, their tax dollars will be going to fund lucrative federal contracts for companies that routinely violate environmental, civil rights, worker protection, consumer and other important laws," said Chavez-Thompson.

The Sierra Club and AFL-CIO said this action is the latest example of President Bush siding with polluters and companies that oppose sound labor laws rather than Americans who want a clean environment and worker''s rights.

The groups noted that in March alone, Bush:

  • weakened safeguards that protect Americans from arsenic in our drinking water;
  • reneged on his promise to curb the carbon dioxide pollution in our air that causes global warming;
  • signed legislation that kills the safety standard designed to protect millions of workers from crippling workplace injuries; and
  • threatened to interfere in airline labor negotiations.

"As tax day nears, Americans want fairness, not a double standard that rewards corporate lawbreakers with fat federal contracts," said Pope. "Americans who obey the law see no reason their taxes should bolster the bank accounts of companies that disregard laws protecting the environment, civil rights, workers and consumers. Once again, the polluting and exploitative industries that funded President Bush''s campaign are getting what they paid for."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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