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MAY 7, 2004
2:07 PM
Suzanne Ffolkes (202) 637-5018
Statement of President John Sweeney on the End of Mediated Discussions on Asbestos Compensation Legislation

WASHINGTON - May 7 - The AFL-CIO is deeply disappointed that after more than a year of intensive efforts we have been unable to reach an agreement with asbestos defendants and insurers on legislation to establish a no-fault National Trust Fund to compensate victims of asbestos disease. Throughout this process we have made our position clear that legislation had to provide victims fair compensation and be adequately funded.

Unfortunately, the level of funding which business and insurers were willing to support was inadequate to fund fair compensation values for victims. Moreover, given the current and future extent of the asbestos disease crisis and likely claims, , we believe the fund could face financial insolvency and collapse within a few years at the levels of funding proposed by business. Such a result is clearly in no one’s interest.

The AFL-CIO appreciates the leadership of Senators Daschle, Frist, Leahy and Hatch in this process, and also the special efforts of Senator Specter to try to help forge a consensus. We also deeply appreciate and thank Judge Edward Becker for his extraordinary service in facilitating and mediating discussions among the parties on this complex issue.

The AFL-CIO remains committed to seeking fair compensation for asbestos victims. The hundreds of thousands of workers and other victims who have been injured, suffered or died from disabling asbestos diseases deserve no less.


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