The AFL-CIO labour union yesterday said efforts to pass legislation this year to create a $114 billion trust fund to compensate victims of asbestos exposure were “absolutely dead”. The amount is described as grossly inadequate to provide fair compensation for victims, representing about $40 billion less than the funding originally proposed and which was itself far too low according to the AFL-CIO president, John Sweeney (right)

Earlier this week Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, announced that an agreement had been reached between insurers and manufacturers to establish the trust fund that would pay victims of asbestos-related diseases based on medical criteria. Organised labour, however, condemned the size of the fund as insufficient to pay future claimants.

“We have reached the end, at least for this year,” Jon Hiatt, general counsel of the AFL-CIO told the Financial Times. “Some of them [insurers and manufacturers] are probably under the illusion that Frist either will try or, if he does, can succeed in jamming a partisan bill.”

Republicans are likely to have difficulty pushing through the legislation without the support of some Democrats.

Yesterday Tom Daschle, US Senate minority leader, said the legislation would not pass in its current form. Insurers and manufacturers have said $114bn is their “final offer”, suggesting that, for now, the legislation has very little chance of passage.

The chairman of the judiciary committee, worked for months with insurers, manufacturers and labour unions to craft legislation that would curb the flood of asbestos litigation that has driven more than 60 companies into bankruptcy. In addition to opposition from the unions, some insurers opposed the Hatch bill, which would have created a $153bn fund.

It was this inability to reach compromise that spurred Mr Frist to try to broker a deal

Scroll to Top