(From the January 16, 2008 Stop Toxic Toys Campaign Media Advisory)
In Portland, labor, environmental, consumer and fair trade advocates rallied outside the downtown office of Oregon Senator Gordon Smith to urge his support for the Food and Product Responsibility Act. The USW was joined at the event by members of the Oregon AFL-CIO, Working America, Portland Jobs with Justice, the Oregon Environmental Coalition, the Sweat Free Northwest Campaign, the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, the Oregon Public Interest Research Group, the Oregon Center for Environmental Health, and others.
"The recalls we keep hearing about week after week are the predictable results of shifting manufacturing to countries that don't meet the same basic consumer protection standards that Americans deem critical," said Arthur Stamoulis, director of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. "Threats to consumer safety go hand-in-hand with the massive job loss we've experienced as a result of our government's backwards trade policy."
The Unhealthy cheap goods that are coming into the country means that somewhere in the world, other workers are being exposed to low wages and higher levels of dangerous chemicals and work conditions than in the United States., added Eliana Machuca, of Portland Jobs with Justice.
"The door to the morality of the multi-national corporations has opened, and as we peer in we begin to understand they do not care about us, or kids, the future of the planet," continued Tom Chamberlin, president of the FL-CIO. "They car about themselves; they care about profit at all costs. And to hell with everything else."
Picket signs at the rally depicted forty different recalled items imported from China. Hazards associated with the recalls included excessive lead content in paint, risk of children swallowing small magnets, chocking and strangulation risk, even one which is known to have caused comas in two different children after swallowing several pieces of the product.
All of the recalled products on the signs at the Portland event were issued since September 2007. One of the recalls was issued this month. Many of the recalled items sat on the shelves and in the hands of consumers for months, and in some cases years before the item was recalled for refund or replacement.
End of Media Advisory .
The event was moderated by Ronald Rodgers, United Steelworkers, event coordinator. Speakers from several organizations brought their particular perspective to this important issue. No Corporate media was in attendance, though this is an extremely important and popular ongoing story. Rodgers introduced the speakers, and they all spoke briefly and eloquently to the crowd of about 40 who had gathered in the cold outside the World Trade Center in downtown Portland.
Speakers for the Press Conference:
Eliana Muchaca, Portland Jobs with Justice.
Elizebeth Swager, Sweat Free Northwest Campaign
Arthur Stamoulis, Director of Oregon Fair Trade Campaign.
Matt Wallace, Oregon Public Interest Research Group
Graham Trainor, Director, Working America-Oregon
Tom Chamberlin, President, Oregon AFL-CIO
This is a 21 minute audio file of the speakers, who give a good understanding of the issue and what's at stake.
Get the LEAD Out: Stop Toxic Toys, RealPlayer
Get the LEAD Out: Stop Toxic Toys, MP3
After the presentations, Ronald announced that, since Sen. Smith was short staffed, no one from the group could be allowed into the office. Instead, a representative would come down to accept whatever comments or materials were intended for the Senator. This has been an on going situation with Senator Smith, choosing to situate his office in privately owned offices, who then can legally refuse access to citizens seeking audience with their elected Senator.Numerous citizens have been arrested in 2007 merely for seeking to speak with Smith concerning his continuing support for the Occupation of Iraq. This link provides an 11 minute video of one of those visits which led to some of these arrests.
At this point Richard Krikava, field representative for Senator Gordon Smith came down and spoke briefly with those who were prohibited from entering the office of the Senator, paid for by the citizens of this country. Many wanted to urge that he vote for the S. 2081, the Food and Product Responsibility Act. Krikava stated that the bill was now in Committee, and that he had no idea when it would be moving out for a vote.
Examples of products to watch out for:
TEETHING RINGS: Many contain phthalates, a toxic chemical used to soften and smoothen plastics;
PLASTIC BABY BOTTLES AND SIPPY CUPS: (labeled as #7 plastics): Many contain polycarbonate, an ingredient in plastic, which can leach bisphenol-A, a suspected hormone disruptor that mimics estrogen. That can cause low sperm count, obesity and neurological problems.
PACIFIERS: Rubber pacifiers or bottle nipples can contain chemical nitrosamines, which can cause cancer. This chemical is often used in cosmetics and pesticides.
DIAPERS: Contained excessive levels of fungus.
For those wishing further research:
In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission routinely posts recall information. Visit this site for up-to-date lists of recalled products and item numbers and for information about what to do if you have the products in your home.
Various USW- run Web sites related to Toxic Trade campaign:
www.usw.org for latest news and podcasts.
www.stoptoxicimports.org for campaign specific info, including online petition and online tool kit request form, Associate member application, event calendar and videos.
www.protect-our-kids.org same as the above web site.
www.uspainfonet.org United Steelworkers Press Association site contains read-made graphics, information about campaign, press release template and other helpful information. Need username and password.
www.Youtube.com/steelworkers Trade Campaign videos.