There are few things in life that are complete no-brainers. The amendment to the FY2010 Defense Appropriations Bill proposed by newly elected Minnesota Sen. Al Franken essentially ensures people employed by defense contractors with the Department of Defense can sue corporations without being forced into private, internal arbitration.
Franken was inspired to write this amendment following the Jamie Leigh Jones case.
Jones, who was 19-years-old, went to Iraq to work for the Halliburton subsidiary KBR and placed in a barracks with over 400 men. She had complained of sexual harassment, and was then later gang-raped and placed into a box that served as her prison.
When she was finally able to free herself, she discovered that the company was protected by the contract she had signed, which mandated that this case go into internal arbitration and prohibiting her from pursuing her case in court.
The Franken bill “would make it so that anybody in business with the Department of the Defense can’t do this,” Franken was quoted as saying in the Huffington Post. “ They can’t have mandatory arbitration on issues like assault and battery.”
Again, this is no-brainer.
Rape, assault, battery are too serious to excuse from litigation.
The bill including the amendment passed Oct. 9, but unfortunately there were 30 votes against this amendment in particular.
Thirty votes against an amendment that will ensure, or at the very least, greatly help victims of violent crime.
This paper doesn’t need to print any more words, nor does it need to print out the names of these dissenting senators, as the furor over the 30 votes has been brewing among constituents ever since the vote was cast.
What the 30 dissenting senators reasons tried to convey was that the Franken Amendment was not broad enough, and that it would affect labor laws to the detriment of the employees.
Yes, it would be a huge change to labor laws if it was applied nationally.
That is why Franken chose to apply it directly to defense contractors, simply for the fact that they are out of control.
They are receiving so much money with most of it being “ lost,” and worse with little to no investigation. as to why.
Do we need to bring up the male Afghanistan contract workers who pretty much partied non-stop, took pictures of themselves naked, and was essentially one giant Animal House party without the comedy?
This is no joke, especially not to Jones and people like her who had found dead-ends with the arbitration proceedings and had to keep fighting tooth and nail for any semblance of justice being done.
Granted, this may be a Band-Aid fix, but in treating a wound left festering over the years, it’s a good start while we finally begin to make defense contractors to straighten out and not be the corporate thugs they almost smugly are.
The Franken Amendment is not only a call for the government to protect its people from the ills of corporate greed, it is a staunch reminder that there are still people like Franken who hear the call of an individuals plight.
It may be too late for the amendment to help Jones, but it will go a long way to defending future victims of crimes such as this.
Isn’t it rather funny, and a bit sad, that the one person who had this terrific idea of protecting the people used to be a comedian?
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