You may not have heard about the political standoff in Illinois. They haven’t been able to pass a budget for two years. One of the big problems is that the Republican Governor insists on a significant reduction in benefits to injured workers. The unions are opposed as are the Democratic majorities in the Illinois House and Senate. Oregon’s system is better than Indiana’s and worse than Illinois. What is interesting is that the Burton Commission, appointed by the Republican President Richard Nixon, recommended a significant improvement in benefits. They are being systematically reduced all around the country. Apparently people are more concerned with getting jobs in (usually with lower wages) and getting folks hired, than they are in keeping them working, or taking care of them if they are hurt. All too frequently employers are shifting the cost of doing business off of themselves and on to the federal system. In other words we (the taxpayers) are subsidizing big business in other states.
The War on Workers’ Comp
Monday, Jun 13, 2016, 8:37 pm
BY Stephen Franklin
For nearly a century, millions of workers have endured punishing jobs in construction, mining and factory work—jobs with high levels of work-related disability and injury. As a tradeoff for the dangers, they’ve had the assurance of workers’ compensation if injured permanently on the job. Employers accepted this deal, albeit sometimes grudgingly, because it removed the possibility of being sued over work-related injuries.
But as labor has weakened and Republicans have won control of more and more statehouses, states have slowly chipped away at workers’ compensation benefits.
Since just 2003, more than 30 states have passed laws that have “reduced benefits for injured workers, created hurdles for medical care or made it more difficult for workers to qualify,” according to a recent investigative series by ProPublica and NPR. Some of the harshest cuts came in California, Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Kansas, Indiana and Tennessee. Today, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), many injured and disabled workers “never enter the workers’ compensation system.” OSHA also estimates that workers’ compensation covers only about 21 percent of the lost wages and medical bills encountered by injured workers and their families.
Illinois, long a union stronghold, could nevertheless join the pack of those closing the doors for some to workers’ compensation if right-wing millionaire Gov. Bruce Rauner gets his way.