Lumber Liquidators Agrees to $33 Million Penalty for Dangerous Made in China Flooring

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

You might remember that back in 2015, the television news program 60 Minutes aired an investigative report finding that national chain Lumber Liquidators was selling Made in China laminate flooring containing dangerously high levels of formaldehyde, a substance known to cause cancer.

The segment – if you feel like getting angry today, just watch it below –  prompted the government to investigate, and a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the 760,000 customers who had purchased the poisonous flooring.

In 2018, Lumber Liquidators was ordered to pay a $36 million settlement as a result of the class action lawsuit. And on Tuesday, the company agreed to pay a $33 million penalty to settle federal charges that it misled its investors about the flooring. Reuters reports:

The Justice Department settlement includes a deferred prosecution agreement, under which the government agreed not to prosecute Lumber Liquidators for securities fraud so long as the company upgrades oversight and cooperates with its ongoing probe for three years. … The amount the company will pay represents Lumber Liquidator’s net profits from the sale of 100 percent of its Chinese laminate from January through May 2015, U.S Attorney’s office said.

The company also has completely replaced its senior executive team, and “installed experienced executives who have displayed a commitment to building an ethical corporate culture,” according to U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger.

As 60 Minutes reported, the Chinese-made laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators contained astonishingly high levels of formaldehyde. When a team of investigators featured in the report tested 150 boxes of the flooring, they found every single piece of it exceeded California emissions standards, some 20 times above acceptable levels. A 2016 federal investigation confirmed much of those findings.

(We’ll note that when tests were done on similar American-made laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators, the formaldehyde levels met emissions standards.)

It’s easy to get fired up about this case and blame Lumber Liquidators. The company did act recklessly, and sold a dangerous product knowing full well just how dangerous it was.

But also it’s important to remember that laminate flooring isn’t the only China-made consumer product to be caught up in safety scandals in recent years. Sadly, a lot of the stuff that is Made in China simply is not safe.

Thousands of people lost their homes and suffered health problems from Chinese-made drywall, leading to a $1 billion settlement in 2015. At least 1,000 dogs died from poisonous treats imported from China, leading chains like Petco and Petsmart to stop selling Chinese-made treats. An independent investigation in 2018 found that nearly one in three toys from Chinacontain heavy metals, while one in 10 contain lead.

And there’s additional safety worries about foodvitamins and even the medicine that comes from China, which does not maintain safety or environmental standards as strict as those in the United States. Given the sheer volume of stuff that is imported from China each year, it’s nearly impossible to test everything to ensure it is safe.

***

Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

More ...

A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder