Debate Expected Later This Week; Whistleblower Provisions Key to Consumer Safety

(Washington, D.C.) – Yesterday, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and a coalition of forty-five other good government and consumer protection groups sent a letter to all Senate offices expressing support for the provisions in S. 2663, consumer product safety reform legislation. Specifically, the groups support the whistleblower rights provisions outlined by the legislation, noting that such provisions are a “necessary cornerstone” for consumer product safety reform to be realized effectively.

Known as the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act of 2007, S. 2663 would protect employees from retaliation for reporting abuses of safety standards by a retailer, manufacturer or distributor of a product in commerce. Its chief sponsor is Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR). The full Senate is expected to debate the bill later this week or early next week.

This is the second time this Congress that the Commerce Committee, led by Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI), has supported landmark whistleblower protections as part of a broader reform initiative. In the recently passed 9/11 legislation, the Committee supported state-of-the-art rights for ground transportation employees.

GAP Legal Director Tom Devine warned, however, against intense special interest pressure threatening the bi-partisan mandate, despite solid Democratic support: “Industry groups have made whistleblower rights a primary target in fighting product safety reform. Amazingly, they contend that employees challenging cover-ups of defective products that threaten our families should not have rights, because it would mean messy lawsuits if they need to defend themselves. Could any American parent agree? Republicans should not allow themselves to be used for an argument they cannot win with the voters. For this reform to be credible, employees who speak out to defend our families need credible protection from retaliation.”