Destroyed KY candle factory workers sue employers for ‘flagrant indifference’ – National & International News – FRI 17Dec2021

Workers at a candle factory in Mayfield, KY, are suing their employers for "flagrant indifference" to their safety. Workers say that management threatened to fire any workers that went home after the first tornado warning.

 

 

KY candle factory workers sue employers for “flagrant indifference”. Judge rejects controversial Purdue Pharma settlement. Congress passes bill banning China forced labor imports. Ukrainian soldier killed by Russian separatists.

 

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Destroyed KY candle factory workers sue employers for “flagrant indifference”

When tornadoes tore through Kentucky and neighboring states last week, managers of the Mayfield Consumer Products told workers they would be fired if they left to seek shelter at home. That’s according to multiple workers, some of whom have previously spoken to the press. According to one worker, the managers went so far as to conduct a roll call to see if any workers had gone home. A few hours later, a tornado flattened the factory, killing 8 workers and seriously injuring dozens of others.

It’s not clear how many employees have signed onto the suit. Some of the plaintiffs have chosen to keep their names private for fear of retaliation. The only named plaintiff is Elijah Johnson, who previously told the press that managers explicitly told him he and others would be fired if they left, despite the weather emergency.

The suit accuses the factory management of “flagrant indifference” to workers’ welfare and of flouting occupational safety and health workplace standards. Kentucky governor Andy Beshear also says the state’s workplace safety agency would be investigating.

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Judge rejects Purdue Pharma settlement that let Sackler family off the hook for opioid deaths

Back in September, a New York bankruptcy court approved a settlement in the bankruptcy of Purdue Pharma, makers of Oxycontin. The agreement allowed the Sackler family, who owns the company, to piggy back on the settlement to achieve immunity in any future opioid death lawsuits, not only for themselves but for numerous associates not directly associated with Purdue. At the time, the settlement received abundant criticism for letting the Sacklers off the hook without admitting any wrongdoing. This despite evidence that members of the family pushed dangerous quotas for OxyContin sales.

Some states were eager to approve the settlement, which would have required the Sacklers to pay $4 billion towards addiction treatment and other aid to addiction-ravaged communities. But some state attorneys general challenged the ruling.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon ruled that the lower court had overstepped its authority in making this sweeping agreement with the Sacklers. Purdue has already said it will appeal McMahon’s ruling.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

U.S. Congress bans forced labor imports from China’s Xinjiang

For at least the last 5 years, China has forced millions of Muslim Uighurs into “re-education” and labor camps. China’s Xinjiang province is home to most of its Uighur population and also has numerous factories and plantations that exploit Uighur labor. These factories produce many products for major U.S. companies.

Congress has now passed a law that places the burden on these U.S.-based companies to prove that products imported from this region were not produced using forced Uighur labor. The bill has faced intense opposition from companies like Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola. 

The White House initially was not enthusiastic about supporting the law, despite ongoing trade wars and accusations of human rights violations against China. However, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says that Biden will sign this bill into law.

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Ukrainian soldier killed in Russian separatist clash

Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine attacked a Ukrainian military encampment with mortars and grenade launchers, killing one soldier and seriously injuring another. For months, Russian troops have been amassing on the Ukrainian border. U.S. intelligence estimates there are at least 100,000 Russian soldiers in the area. The U.S. and other countries have warned that Russia will face crippling sanctions if they invade Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged restraint on all sides. Specifically, he warned Ukraine’s leaders not to fall victim to “the Russian playbook”. He predicted that Russia would find some way to provoke a military response from the Ukraine to “justify” an invasion. It’s possible that Russia is hoping the Ukrainian military will crack down on Russian separatists and communities in response to these attacks, giving Russia an excuse to invade.

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