by Lindsay Beyerstein
How our blog got its name
Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”
Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.
It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.
The Sunscreen Lobby Lays it On Thick
Consumers might not consider sunscreen a powerhouse industry, but many of its manufacturers, as well as makers of other products that claim to offer some degree of sun protection, are actually part of giant cosmetics or chemical companies -- which are heavy-hitters here in Washington (for instance Merck, which owns the popular Coppertone sunscreen brand.) Two trade organizations closely aligned with the cosmetics industry have gone to bat on the labeling rules, demanding the FDA roll them back -- the Personal Care Products Council, which has spent about $140,000 on lobbying so far this year, and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which has dropped about $210,000 so far in 2012. The Personal Care Products Association spent $890,000 in 2011, and well over $1 million the previous two years, while the Consumer Healthcare Products Association spent $835,000 last year, and $3.2 million in 2010. Both report lobbying the FDA.Turning this into a full-blown beach brawl, a handful of senators are now promoting legislation -- the Sunscreen Labeling Protection Act -- to force the FDA to speed up the process. But don't confuse that with the Skin Cancer Prevention, Education, and Consumer Right-To-Know Act, another piece of proposed legislation to begin enforcement of the new rules. Both pieces of legislation are currently stuck in place.
In the best tradition of Big Tobacco, the European chemical giant CIBA created a front group called Citizens for Sun Protection, Choma notes. CIBA is part of an even larger company that claims to manufacture half the world supply of UV-blocking chemicals.
[Photo credit: Amy McTeague, Creative Commons.]