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Union members protest toxic products

Picketers spend day at Rep. Bartlett's office

Picketers spend day at Rep. Bartlett's office

January 17, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - Pickets donned biohazard gear as a symbolic gesture to protest lead-based imports Wednesday in front of the Hagerstown office of U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-6th.

Jerry Ernest, a member of United Steelworkers Local 9477 and leader of the picket, said union members across the country spent the day protesting 100 congressional district offices as part of the National Day of Action on Toxic Trade. The event was intended to convince Congress to pass the U.S. Food and Produce Responsibility Act, which is designed to help safeguard Americans against toxic imports, like toys and toothpaste, he said.

"(Toxic imports are) undermining our safety," Ernest said. "We want to hold the manufacturers accountable for bringing these products into the country."

About 20 people from five labor unions participated in the local picket.

Bartlett was not at his office in Hagerstown, but Lisa Wright, a spokeswoman for the congressman, said in a telephone interview that Bartlett "welcomed the attention of the labor union members to highlight bipartisan efforts" to address unsafe imports.

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Wright said Bartlett already voted to pass the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act, which is similar to the legislation that the pickets were supporting Wednesday.

One of Bartlett's Democratic opponents in this year's election, Andrew Duck, attended the picket. He said Americans want their government to ensure that safe products are coming into the country.

Until additional legislation is passed, it is important to get the word out about the dangers of some foreign imports and to show people how they can test products for lead, Duck said.

A simple test kit is available over the Internet for about $20, according to literature that was distributed at the picket. The test involves rubbing a liquid solution onto a test surface with a small brush. If the bristles turn pink, the item contains lead.




ยท To learn more, visit www.leadcheck.com or call 800-262-5323.

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