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Labor has thing or two to say about workers’ comp editorial

Post by Kim Bradford on Jan. 29, 2010 at 9:32 pm with 5 Comments »
February 12, 2010 1:27 pm

The Washington State Labor Council is firing back after our editorial on workers’ compensation today. No surprise there. We backed changes in the insurance program for injured workers, changes that labor adamantly opposes.

I’ll let most of the WSLC’s response speak for itself. But there are two charges that I can’t let go unanswered. The first:

We see corporate lobbying groups and certain politicians criss-crossing the state to tell business owners they are getting a raw deal, that the government doesn’t care about them, and the grass is greener across the state line. (Those politicians are having a tough time getting elected with their “Washington Sucks” message though. Right, Dino?) We see the think tanks they fund and the consultants they hire churning out “studies” that decry our workers’ compensation system. And we see newspaper editorial writers accept their findings as fact and entirely ignore the perspectives of injured workers.

I’m not sure who exactly the labor council thinks has been bought off, but the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research might take issue with that allegation. It was the firm hired by the state because, as Upjohn explained in its report on the workers’ compensation system, “concerns exist at both the legislature and in the Department of Labor and Industries as there appears to have been a sharp upturn in the number of pensions awarded since late in the 1990s.” Sure enough, Upjohn found that Washington awarded nearly eight times more workers’ comp pensions than an average state its size.

Then there was this labor council statement:

Look, nobody thinks they’ll get injured at work. It’s especially easy to understand why a newspaper editorial writer, for example, might not value this insurance much. Unless she leans against her desk, slips on the spittle beside her keyboard and cracks her head on her Chamber of Commerce award, she is unlikely to ever suffer a disabling work injury.

Ha! I may not have a chamber award to crack my head on, but statements like that do make me snort coffee out my nose. Does that count as a disabling workplace injury?

Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. Kim Bradford asks, “Does that count as a disabling workplace injury?”

    What, slipping on the spittle beside your keyboard and cracking your head on a Chamber of Commerce award, or, snorting coffee out your nose?

    Those of us who are actually exposed to the potential of real workplace injuries take Workman’s Comp very seriously. It’s no joke to sprain or break something only to be laid up for weeks at a time without an income.

    It’s easy to mock the system from the safety of your desk, while the workers of the world are out there fighting the elements and hazards, providing a safe and cushy surrounding for you.

    Take your Gucci’s off and try on a pair of Red Wing’s for a while. You’ll see for yourself just how comfortable you have it, and what blood sweat and tears really means.

  2. Polago, no one is advocating that workers not be compensated for their workplace injuries. We have pressmen who work in the very same building I do who are exposed to significant hazards working around heavy machinery. We have reporters and photographers who climb to the top of the Narrows bridge tower. I want them protected just as much as anyone.

    I wasn’t mocking the system; I was mocking the labor council’s hot air.

  3. Kim Bradford,

    The response that you mocked was a reply to the suggestion in your editorial, that it was, somehow, desirable to be injured so severely, as to qualify “for a total permanent disability and get the granddaddy of awards, the lifetime pension.”

    Your editorial was only concerned with costs to employers, while mocking the injured and permanently disabled, playing to the employers fears.

    The Washington State Labor Council’s response was proportional, and understandable, considering the tone and lopsidedness of your editorial; the inflammatory, granddaddy comment not withstanding.

    The WSLC should have had a voice in your editorial. They represent many of your readers.

  4. jimkingjr says:

    What does one expect of organized labor? This is the same group that sent person after person to the stand to complain about the cut in benefits of a bill that only smoothed out unemployment tax rates, and didn’t touch benefits.

    If business wants it, organized labor is knee-jerk “No!”

  5. I am the holder of a “granddaddy of awards” a permanent, total disability. Someone please tell me when it starts to get fun.
    The first thing that they do is cut your income by 40% and take away any benefits that you had such as health insurance for yourself AND your family, dental insurance, life insurance, etc.
    Oh, sure, COBRA allows you to keep these things… if you pay for them. At such a reduction in salary that’s an impossibility. The Long-term disability insurance that my employer offered paid $100 per month since I was getting L&I and Social Security. Then they canceled it because I couldn’t prove to them that I was disabled! Of course, I couldn’t afford to pay an Attorney to fight it either.
    After nearly 13 Years of being on an L&I Pension, I am just now making what I was earning while working. My family has no health care. We never qualified for Basic Health because my Pension put us over the qualification line. I have dentures now. My wife and kids teeth are in terrible shape because we’ve had no dental care. Dentists want money up front from “people like us” I’m fortunate enough to qualify for Medicare. Otherwise, my medications and doctors would be mine to pay. Pensioners get no State insurance.
    Our Credit has taken a beating and we are just now starting to be able to pay monthly bills. Until the car breaks down. We will not be able to buy our own home for quite a while.
    So, tell me, when does this “Granddaddy of awards” start paying off? Well, I DO get to park closer to the door at MOST places. That is, if someone without handicapped “privileges” will just move their car!

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