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June 23, 2003

Chamber Poll Finds Public and Union Support for Asbestos Fund

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce released a new study that reflects strong public and union support for a legislative solution to the asbestos litigation crisis crippling the American economy.

“Most Americans agree – the truly sick must be taken care of before all others,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. “For years, everyone from the U.S. Supreme Court to academics have been calling for a viable legislative solution to the asbestos litigation crisis – and now union workers have joined the chorus.”

A Chamber-commissioned Harris Interactive survey of labor union members and the general public found an overwhelming majority (83 percent union and 83 percent general public) believes that only those who have been impaired by asbestos exposure – people with cancer or disabling asbestosis – should be compensated right away. Others should only be compensated if and when they become impaired.

Most of those polled (70 percent union and 71 percent general public) said a special fund should be set up to handle quick compensation for the truly sick, rather than the court system. Such a compensation system is contained in a bill currently being marked-up in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Chamber strongly supports the framework of the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2003, introduced by Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

“The fact that nearly three-fourths of all workers – union and non-union alike – support a compensation fund is a compelling number that Senators must take seriously,” Rickard added. “A fund would help true victims, not trial lawyers or the unimpaired, get paid fast.”

The United States Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region. The mission of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone.

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