As if more evidence was needed that unregulated corporate behavior hurts working families and destroys our environment, now comes news that BP compared its workers to the ‘Three Little Pigs’ in calculating the dollar value of their lives.
For BP to value their workers like farm animals is the clearest illustration yet that only the force of law can protect working people. BP executives had a chance to change after the Texas City explosion that killed 15 workers five years ago. Yet 11 more BP workers died last month in the Deepwater Horizon explosion – now spewing countless gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico – all for want of proper safety equipment and strong oversight by the federal government.
We saw similarly disastrous results in Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine explosion last month, killing 29 miners. Massey’s vicious campaigns prevented workers from forming unions to adequately address their safety concerns. Instead, miners feared for their jobs if they spoke out about workplace safety.
None of these workers had to die. BP and Massey have merely decided to increase workers’ risk to save money, and now not only have Americans been killed, but also some of the worst, deadliest, and costliest tragedies of this century have resulted. BP has to be held accountable for this latest disaster, but more is needed. Clearly, voluntary codes of corporate conduct are a sham.
This is a watershed moment. Will our leaders squander this chance to fix our hands-off policy when it comes to corporate regulation? Or will these tragedies push our policymakers towards a new era of protecting its citizens and communities again?
As it stands, while BP and other corporate interests wage war on our workers and our environment, America’s lawmakers stand by doing almost nothing. It’s beyond pathetic.