Reading Room

Tri-Valley CAREs' Staff Attorney Goes to DC to Advocate for Sick Workers

Tri-Valley CAREs' Staff Attorney, Scott Yundt, spent three days in in our nation's capital last week with two objectives: 1) to participate in the Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Groups (ANWAG)/Cold War Patriots' leadership conference on behalf of the Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) and Sandia Livermore National Lab (SNL) Sick Worker Support Group for workers made ill by on-the-job exposures, and, 2)to meet with members of Congress to advocate major changes to the Federal law intended to compensate sick and dying nuclear weapons complex workers and their families.

This Advocates Leadership Conference brought together 50 sick nuclear worker advocates from around the country for the first time to share insights and ideas on how to work with and improve the Energy Employees Occupation Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA).

The extremely complex and bureaucratic program seeks to compensate former energy employees at US nuclear weapons complex sites, like Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia- Livermore National Laboratory, who have been made ill by on the job exposure to radiation and toxic chemicals. It is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

The Conference began with an all day workshop in which advocates shared their experiential knowledge about EEOICPA gained from assisting claimants with their applications for compensation and benefits from the program. Dr Eugene Schwartz a former DOL Medical Consultant and Whistleblower presented to us on the Claims review process and best ways to get a claim approved, reducing claim times and processes.

Participants learned about current legislative priorities including the Charlie Wolf Act, amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act and the creation of DOL a review board for Part E of the program.

On Tuesday we spent the day meeting with congressional and senatorial staff. We met with staff from Senator Dianne Feinstein's office, Representative John Garamendi's office, Representative Barbara Lee's office, and Representative Dina Titus' office. We presented staff with a packet that included a print out of the ANWAG petition urging Congress to hold oversight hearings on the implementation of EEOICPA by the DOL as suggested by a recent GAO report, a sheet with information on our legislative priorities and a statistical analysis of problems with the EEOICPA program.

The conference was very productive and we will keep this site updated with information on the upcoming important legislation as they develop.