The Big Corporate Bullies are at it again! Just when we thought they’d be embarassed and hiding from their latest shenanigans—pawning off bad medicine (think VIOXX) or seeing their Chinese competitors getting caught trying to sneak tainted pet food, toothpaste and fish into the U.S., they’re back themselves trying to slam the courthouse doors shut so they can’t be prosecuted for their own often dangerous antics.
What is it now? It’s a new initiative they’ve just filed with the California Attorney General’s office which will allow them to avoid accountability when they get caught doing things like discriminating against their employees on the basis of race, gender, age or disability. If this initiative makes it to the ballot and passes, they’ll be able to get away with refusing to pay their workers for their earned pay, be passing off known damaged and dangerous products, illegally pollute our air and water with inpugnity. The list goes on and on.
How are these profiteers planning their next attack on protecting the public? They’re staking out an initiative which will all but end class action lawsuits in the state of California by making them so hard and expensive for the little guy to bring to court, that they’ll all but vanish. Using Bush-like double-speak to hide their true identity, these greedy CEO’s and corporate polluters go by the totally misleading title of ” Civil Justice Association ” otherwise known as C-JAC. Like Bush’s cronies, they’re anything but seeking justice—it’s just more and more about their profits and the public be damned.
Who are the groups hiding behind such a high-sounding name? They’re really the Big Oilies, Tobacco, HMO’s, Insurance giants, car manufacturers, financial industry fat cats. Names like GM, Pharma, Chevron, State Farm Insurance, Pfizer, Exxon Mobil, BLue Cross, Countrywide Financial fill up their letterhead. They’ve misnamed this latest fraud on the public the “California Class Action Lawsuit Fairness Act.” The question is: For whom are they supposedly seeking “fairness” ? When have they ever been known for trying to protect regular folk? This is certainly not intended to benefit the people of California, that’s for sure. It’s just another effort to protect their profits and their irresponsible behavior in pursuit of those profits.
Although in its early stages, they’ve now taken the first step to qualify this anti-consumer, anti-environmental, anti-worker, anti-civil rights measure by submitting a request to the A.G.to prepare a “title and summary” of the proposed initiative. Signed by Allan Zaremberg, former President of the California Chamber of Commerce and President of this band of corporate fat-cats, this is yet another attempt to deny justice to the average Californian by making justice just too expensive for them to seek it.
These anti-civil justice folks, like our President, don’t want to have to take any responsibility for their irresponsible behavior. They want to be able to continue to deny workers their wages, deny promotions and advancement to employees because of their gender, race, disability, etc. They want to continue to pollute communities without financial responsibility, sell cancer causing cigarettes while claiming they’re healthier than regular cancer sticks, when they’re not and they KNOW it and make lousy cars that roll over while misrepresenting their safety problems.
The list goes on, but they’ve decided they don’t want to have to take responsibility for endangering the public. And why should they? With enough money, they’ll just put this confusing little measure on the ballot, start blasting “trial lawyers” and slime their way out of producing decent products, giving people equal opportunity, paying them their fair wages and doing their best to make sure the food we feed our families and our pets aren’t tainted and poisonous.
There are many, many, cases where justice and public protection were only made possible because of the long-standing recognition of the value and importance of class action lawsuits. Just think back to Brown v. Board of Education. This lawsuit was a class action which outlawed segregation and set the stage for the entire civil rights movement. C-JAC’s latest initiative campaign would put an end to this important work here in California.
There are a number of sneak attacks that Big Business is going to try, especially next summer when the June election will likely be a sleeper and fewer Californians will be watching. We’ve got to make sure they don’t get away with destroying our hard-fought protections for the less powerful that class action lawsuits have made possible.
Big Business’ goal is to close the courthouse doors to all but the wealthiest among us. Remember that our system of justice requires that Justice be blind and cannot be bought-even by them. We’re a people who value fairness and justice, which means everyone and every big corporation has to answer for their improper conduct.
We’ll be doing a lot more reporting and following this latest smarmy effort by C-JAC and Big Business to avoid accountability. We’ll be keeping you informed and letting you know what you can do to fight against corporate greed and arrogance here in California. It’s time we said “no” to their irresponsibility and “yes” to protecting the public from their dangerous behavior and blatant disregard for the public good.