Put People Over Profits, Reject Corporate Immunity

American Council on Education

Universities and corporations should be doing everything in their power to protect their students and employees. Sign our petition to tell the American Council on Education to stop lobbying for corporate immunity so that St. Mary's students and workers do not have to waive liability to return to campus!

Petition by
Kellye Fernandez
San Antonio, Texas

To: American Council on Education
From: [Your Name]

We, the St. Mary’s Chapter of the People’s Parity Project, announce our opposition to, and demand an end to, lobbying Congress for corporate immunity.

Corporate immunity would allow corporations and universities to waive liability to their employees and students for the duration of COVID-19. State tort law requires these entities to take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of their employees and students. Corporate immunity would render this requirement obsolete during COVID-19. St. Mary’s is a member of the American Council on Education (ACE), an industry group that is lobbying for corporate immunity. ACE is lobbying to let corporations gamble with workers’ and students’ lives.

Texas is facing one of the biggest COVID-19 outbreaks worldwide. If students and employees return to campus without critical safety measures in place, the virus could spread quickly through classrooms and dorms – and campuses could become local hotspots. Corporate immunity would put a countless number of people at risk during this pandemic, all to serve big business interests.

Blanket corporate immunity could shield universities and other employers from liability if they:
• Unreasonably fail to provide students and employees with PPE.
• Fail to enforce social distancing in classrooms and workplaces.
• Are aware that a student/employee has tested positive for COVID-19, and the university or business unreasonably fails to trace and test other community members that the student/employee has come into contact with.
• Fail to take reasonable steps to encourage or prevent students/employees who are sick from coming to class or work.
• Unreasonably ignore clear guidance from state or federal public health officials.

Allowing universities and businesses to re-open with immunity from lawsuits for violating the basic health and safety guidelines will encourage them to ignore student and employee health in favor of opportunistically profiting off the pandemic. Corporate immunity strips employees and students of their ability to hold their universities and businesses accountable. It would also disincentivize these entities from establishing basic safety precautions, most notably for students and employees of color who are the most vulnerable population of this pandemic. Black and Latinx Texans are more likely to work in high-risk jobs and are two times as likely to contract the virus than white Texans. Corporate immunity would put them at an even greater risk. This highlights the continued racial disparities in all aspects of our country. Disregarding safety precautions and CDC guidelines will only result in more COVID-19 cases and more needless deaths.

Corporate immunity will make our students and workers less safe and allow corporations and universities to take advantage of them. History has taught us that when nobody is accountable, nobody is safe.

We call on all our federal and state representatives, as well as ACE, to:
• Stop lobbying for corporate immunity;
• Oppose corporate immunity legislation that higher education lobby groups are pushing;
• Pledge not to force students and employees to sign away their right to sue by making them sign “liability waivers” to come back to campus and to work.

Our hardest working and most vulnerable peoples should not have to waive liability for corporate profits.

[1] https://www.peoplesparity.org/opposecorporateimmunityforschools/

[2] https://www.startribune.com/covid-19-racial-disparities-in-sharper-focus/571392962/