WASHINGTON (PAI) — Despite some improvements in the latest legislation, the AFL-CIO has dropped its support of a comprehensive asbestos victims compensation bill.

Asbestos victims suffer from mesothelioma — a form of cancer — asbestosis and other lung diseases caused by years of inhaling the asbestos fibers as they worked in buildings, in mines, in shipyards and at factories.

The fund is supposed to pay them for their medical bills and lost earnings with money from asbestos producers and their insurers. But in return, ex-workers would be barred from suing.

The measure, drafted by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), would establish a $140 billion fund to compensate the 200,000-plus workers who are victims of asbestos. The Senate may debate the bill by the end of May.

Specter’s new bill “includes some important improvements such as increases in award levels for some disease categories and a bar against any liens on workers compensation awards,” AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney said in mid-April. But it also bars money “for a large group of lung cancer victims, without allowing these individuals to document asbestos exposure through CT scans, and the absence of remedies for victims during the period” before the asbestos fund starts.

The federation also objected to a statute of limitations for victims to file claims, and the lack of details about what would be done if the fund runs out of money. Business groups oppose refilling the fund, and the AFL-CIO objects to their stand, too.

Asbestos victims’ groups note asbestos-caused disease takes so long to develop that the number of victims will peak in 2020.

The victims’ groups and the firefighters union, which represents workers who toil in asbestos-laced, older burning buildings, are battling the bill. On April 1, they launched last-ditch lobbying to stop it, arguing it’s too pro-business and does not help victims.

According to the Environmental Working Group, “The Senate’s latest scheme to limit the liability of asbestos makers would cut benefits dramatically to people dying of the fatal asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, and pre-empt laws in 12 states, and court cases in at least eight, that guarantee a speedy trial to terminally ill plaintiffs.” EWG said dying mesothelioma victims would see their cases thrown out or would have to wait for nine months before restarting their cases or filing claims. “Hundreds of people would die waiting,” EWG adds.

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