Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi and Green Call For Full Disclosure of Corporate-Owned Life Insurance

May 2, 2002


Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) and other Democrats held a news conference today to urge Congress to pass their legislation requiring full disclosure of life insurance policies purchased by corporations on their employees. In addition to Pelosi and Green, Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) and Congressman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) attended the press conference, as did Ed Krawczyk of the United Steelworkers of America.

Recent news reports have revealed that many large companies purchase so-called "dead peasant" life insurance policies on low-wage employees without their consent or knowledge. When the employees die, their families receive nothing. Instead, the companies reap the benefits, and in some cases use the money to fund compensation packages for high-level executives.

"The idea that companies are buying life insurance policies on their lowest-paid workers, without their knowledge and consent, is simply wrong," said Pelosi. "A company’s job is to generate goods, services, jobs, and income, and they do it well. It is not their job to make millions of dollars in life insurance off the deaths of American workers."

In response to these abuses, Congressman Green has introduced legislation aimed at informing workers of these policies. Pelosi is an original co-sponsor of the bill, H.R. 4551, the Life Insurance Employee Notification Act (LIEN Act). It would force corporations who take out life insurance policies on their employees to inform the workers and reveal the amount of each policy. The LIEN Act would also require employers to notify former employees or family members of any policies going back to Jan. 1, 1985.

"I would like to commend my colleague Gene Green for shining a spotlight on the outrageous practice of 'dead peasant' insurance polices," Pelosi said. "This bill gives workers the right to know when their employer has taken out insurance policies on their lives."

Congressman Green said: "Why did I introduce the LIEN Act? Because companies buying secret life insurance policies on the lives of their employees is wrong. It simply does not pass the smell test, and if it doesn’t smell right, it usually isn’t right. The LIEN Act is a sunshine bill that forces companies to disclose to the employee that a 'dead peasant' policy has been purchased in their name."


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