USW Women of Steel Crusade Against Toxic Trade; Hosts Session to Demonstrate Testing Products for Lead

When:   November 18, 2008 at 5:00 pm
Where:  Theron Jones Early Literacy Center
            2600 West 15th Street
            Texarkana, TX 75501

TEXARKANA, Texas - The United Steelworkers (USW) Women of Steel (WOS) is hosting a lead screening session to educate families about potentially toxic products and the bad trade policies that are allowing them into our homes. The product screenings are part of the USW's international "Protect Our Kids - Stop Toxic Imports" campaign.

Members of the community are invited to bring toys and other imported items to the Early Literacy Center, where they will be screened for lead and where the USW will provide safety and educational material. The USW's Women of Steel are conducting the lead-screening tests here and across the United States and Canada.

"We're hoping our campaign helps find poisoned products so we can get them out of our homes, but we also want to draw attention to the root of the problem - bad trade deals," said Jackie Boyce. "These cheap goods from countries like China have an expensive price that is threatening the health and safety of our children and families."

Over the past year, the USW Women of Steel have conducted lead screening tests similar to the Texarkana event in more than 30 cities across North America to educate families about this threat of lead contaminated toys and other products.

"Products we made safe through regulation of U.S. manufacturers are coming in poisonous through a back door in trade policy," said Dr. Herbert Needleman, a University of Pittsburgh professor who pioneered lead research and treatments 30 years ago. Dr. Needleman said he was deeply disappointed that "decades of progress through research have been reversed."

USW President Leo W. Gerard has spearheaded the second Steelworkers "Get the Lead Out" campaign. "The USW has a strong legacy of fighting to protect American families, playing a key role to 'get the lead out' of most products and goods by the end of the 1970s," Gerard recalled. "Our nation is at another crossroads right now and it is time to change course and reverse the influx of toxic goods finding their way onto our store shelves."

More information about the union's project can be found at www.stoptoxicimports.org. The Web site provides information and tools to deal with failed trade and inadequate regulatory policies that allow dangerous products to threaten our children and jobs. 

"This threat to the health of our children and families is a direct result of unregulated trade and it will continue to grow until these flawed trade policies are addressed," Gerard said.

The Steelworkers' campaign is supported by a broad array of consumer and environmental organizations, including the Blue-Green Alliance ( www.bluegreenalliance.org), the Public Health Institute and the Center for Environmental Health ( www.cehca.org).

Beginning with the recall of 1.5 million Thomas the Tank Engine toys in June last year, more than 6 million toys have been recalled for high levels of lead. Lead can cause a variety of health problems, including learning disabilities, stunted growth, kidney damage and even death. Other dangerous imports include faulty medicine, steel, and tires, and toxic lipstick, toothpaste, seafood, children's lunchboxes and pet food.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in the United States and Canada employed in the industries of metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service sector. For more information: www.usw.org/.

Contacts: Jackie Boyce (h) 903-334-8994, (m) 903-277-2079
              Mary Keeton  (h) 903-244-4190, (m) 903-838-8236

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