First off I need to say that for the most part I despise Al Franken for a number of reasons. I consider him to be part of the liberal elite who claim to support “the people” of the United States and it’s Constitution but really they are just socialists in sheep’s clothing stealing your tax dollars for their own benefit. I am pretty fiscally conservative and disagree with quite a bit that our current government is doing, particularly the sleight of hand they use to fuck our future.
That having been said, Al Franken introduced an amendment to the fiscal year 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that I heartily approve. I will get to the text of the bill shortly but in a nutshell it denies funding to contractors who make employees sign mandatory binding arbitration in the case of sexual assault and harassment. 68 Senators voted for the amendment today and 30 against (2 didn’t vote). My two senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson voted against the amendment which is tantamount to telling rape victims such as Jamie Leigh Jones that they can’t sue contractors when their employees break the law and knowingly harass or sexually assault another employee.
According to the Wikipedia entry for Jamie Jones,
Jones began working for KBR as an administrative assistant in 2004 when she was 19, and started her contract of employment with Overseas Administrative Services, Ltd. in Houston, Texas on July 21, 2005.
According to Jones, on July 28, 2005, several KBR offered her a drink containing a date rape drug, of which she took two sips. The men then engaged in unprotected anal and vaginal gang-rape upon her while she was unconscious. She was able to name one of her attackers based on his confession to her, but was unable to identify the others due to her unconsciousness. Further, the lawsuit filed by Jones’ attorneys cites the following: “When she awoke the next morning still affected by the drug, she found her body naked and severely bruised, with lacerations to her vagina and anus, blood running down her leg, her breast implants ruptured, and her pectoral muscles torn – which would later require reconstructive surgery. Upon walking to the rest room, she passed out again.” Jones’ account was confirmed by U.S. Army physician Jodi Schultz. Schultz gave the rape kit she used to gather evidence from Jones to KBR/Halliburton security forces, after which the rape kit disappeared (though it was recovered later).
Jones was confined by armed guards to a shipping container containing only a bed, under the orders of her employer, KBR. She says she was denied food, water, and medical treatment. After approximately one day, says Jones, a sympathetic guard gave her a cell phone and she called her father, Tom, who in turn contacted Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) who contacted the State Department. Agents were dispatched from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and removed Jones from KBR custody.
In May 2007, a State Department diplomat recovered the rape kit from Halliburton and KBR. However, notes and photographs taken by Schultz (of Jones the morning following her rape) were missing, undermining any chances of bringing the case through the criminal courts.
So how about the amendment itself?
SA 2588. Mr. FRANKEN (for himself and Ms. Landrieu) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill H.R. 3326, making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes; as follows:
On page 245, between lines 8 and 9, insert the following:
Sec. 8104. (a) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any existing or new Federal contract if the contractor or a subcontractor at any tier requires that an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, sign a contract that mandates that the employee or independent contractor performing work under the contract or subcontract resolve through arbitration any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention. (b) The prohibition in subsection (a) does not apply with respect to employment contracts that may not be enforced in a court of the United States.
You can find the congressional record here.
I am not particularly against law suits, as a matter of fact I consider probably 90% of them to be frivolous and part of what is wrong with the country but in the case of incidents like Jones’ the company should get reamed in the ass.
I am ashamed that my senators (I voted for Isakson) voted along party lines and most likely didn’t even bother to consider the ramifications of the amendment if they read it at all, just assuming (with good reason I suppose) that Al Franken is a moron and a moonbat. Eight Republicans voted for the amendment, and yes I do consider Franken to be an idiot but at least I read the amendment prior to making my decision about it.
Updated 10/21/09 – You can find a list of the thirty Republican Senators (with contact numbers) that voted against this bill at Republicans For Rape.
The Huffington Post has one up about Jon Stewart and his take on the amendment. Jon Stewart isn’t someone I make a practice of watching on a regular basis but he’s right on the money here, at least up until he brings ACORN into the mix.
Oh by the way, both of my Senators have also joined 16 others recently in sending the FCC a letter opposing their support for Net Neutrality. They seem to be more concerned with listening to their Telecom lobbyists than their own constituents.