Workers Comp News(Plus) OR AFL-CIO

Author Subject: Workers Comp News(Plus) OR AFL-CIO
Webmaster Posted At 18:54:47 05/12/2000
This Weekly Report was e-mailed to WI

The following is from the OR AFL-CIO's weekly update. The news is good.
There's a long way to go, but we've made a difference, and others around
the country will take heart from our success. In solidarity, Mike Maier

Weekly Update: Volume 2, #19
Wednesday, May 10, 2000
What If They Hold an Election and (Almost) Nobody Votes?…As of today, less
than one out of five voters had mailed in their ballots in the statewide
primary election that will determine the fate of Measure 81 (which will
allow the legislature to override the authority of juries to determine
civil damage awards) and numerous funding measures for schools and local
governments around the state. Also at stake are the candidacies of key
labor supporters in contested primary races - like Democrats Sam Gillispie
(an AFSCME staff representative) in House District 25 and Martin Taylor (a
representative with the Oregon Nurses Association) in House District 11.

If you haven’t voted yet, please take the time to fill out and mail in your
ballot by Friday - since ballots must be received by Tuesday, May 16.
After Friday, it is safer to take your ballot to your county elections
department or a designated drop site in your area.

If you’d like to help with our final push to turn out the union vote, join
us on Monday, May 15, from 6:00 to 8:30 PM, at the Carpenters Hall, 2205 N.
Lombard in North Portland or the IAM/IWA Hall, 1116 South A Street, in
Springfield for phone banking and door-to-door ballot pick-ups. For more
information, call Steve Lanning at 503-585-6320.

Governor’s Group Reaches Agreement on Workers’ Comp Reforms…A
labor-management group convened by Gov. John Kitzhaber has reached
agreement on changes to the workers’ comp system that represent the first
pro-worker reforms of that system in at least 10 years.

“These are not reforms that will fix all the problems with the workers’
comp system,” said Tim Nesbitt, who with Ken Allen (AFSCME Council 75) and
Bob Shiprack (Oregon State Building Trades) represented labor on the
committee, “but, as a whole, these changes will reverse the steady erosion
of rights and benefits for injured workers that we have witnessed during
the last 10 years. We are shifting the pendulum back a couple of notches
toward a more fair and adequate system of compensation for injured workers.”

The package of changes was recommended by all six labor and management
members of the Governor’s group and was ratified by a unanimous vote of the
Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board last night. The changes will be drafted as
legislation for the next session of the legislature.

The most significant changes include:
§ Compensability
o Eliminating “predisposition” as a basis for denying benefits; and,
o Shifting the burden of proof from the worker to the employer in the event
of a workplace incident, which means that employer would have to prove that
the workplace incident was not the cause of a worker’s disability.

§ Benefits
o Expanding access to benefits after expiration of the five-year
aggravation period;
o Increasing the cap on time loss (TTD) benefits from 100% of Oregon’s
average weekly wage to 133%;
o Increasing compensation for injured workers who hold multiple jobs to
reflect time lost from all covered employment;
o Reducing the timeline for accepting or denying a claim from 90 to 60
days; and,
o Expanding the circumstances when workers can refuse light duty assignments.

§ Adjudication of Claims
o Restructuring the Insurer Medical Examination (IME) system to require
certification of IME doctors by the Workers Comp Division and to require
insurers to give workers a choice of three different doctors when referred
to an IME.

Also, as part of the package, employers got two things they wanted:
§ A five-year time limit on new condition claims (same as aggravation
rights), but we preserved benefits for new condition claims after five
years by shifting them to, and expanding the benefits available for, the
Workers’ Comp Board’s “own motion” authority to approve the reopening of
claims; and,
§ Modification of the Employer Liability Act (ELA). The ELA allows workers
to seek damage awards for workplace injuries in multi-employer settings
where an employer (other than the direct employer) was responsible in whole
or in part for an injury. The change recommended is to require ELA claims
to be based on the “contributory negligence” standard, which means
claimants have to prove that a defendant employer is more than 50%
responsible for an injury.
For a complete summary of the package, call Sue Harrison at 503-585-6320.

In Other Actions… the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board voted not to proceed
with any of our Patients’ Bill of Rights initiatives this year, given an
agreement with representatives of Oregon’s major health insurers to join in
a task force convened by the Governor to work on patients’ right
legislation for submission to the next session of the legislature.

C Kudos to State Representative (and IBEW Local 48 Vice-President) Dan
Gardner for playing a pivotal role last weekend in Washington D.C. in
defeating a resolution at the National Council of State Legislatures to
endorse permanent normal trade relations for China…and to Teamsters Local
206 for their organizing victory, by a vote of 15-8, at Pacific Metals in

Mark Your Calendars:
§ Monday, May 15: Rally to defeat Measure 81 - and keep the right of juries
to determine civil damage awards - at noon, Chapman Square, SW 4th and
Main, Portland.
§ Friday, May 19: BOLI’s Wage and Hour Commission holds its public hearing
on proposed changes to Oregon’s child labor laws, which would allow small
employers to request and receive waivers to work children under 16 past
7:00 PM and for more then three hours per day when school is in session, at
1:30 PM in Hearing Room B at the State Capitol. For more information, call
Lynn-Marie Crider at 503-585-6320.


Tigerlily Re: Check out the Brutal Fl Laws (Currently 0 replies)
Posted At 00:39:28 04/20/2001

> These are the laws that our lovely lawmakers in Florida are trying to pass-----Thanks to Bush-----Don't get hurt in Fl---You'll loose everything!!
> **only one change of physician is allowed;
> ** the change of physician is to be selected from a list of three provided
> the carrier;
> ** The injured worker cannot make a request for any recommended medical
> treatment without written documentation provided by the physician;
> **IME (Independent medical costs are payable only if the Judge relies upon
> it);
> **Compensation for toxic exposure is severly limited and harder to prove;
> **Makes it more difficult to obtain benefits for occupational disease and
> other exposure injuries;
> **Eliminates impairment benefits for psychiatric benefits;
> Creates overly restrictive definition of permanent total disability:
> a) removes social security definition thereby removing the federal
> definition for catastrophic injury;
> b) requires the catastrophically injured to prove inability to find any
> gainful employment within a 100 mile radius;
> Restricts an injured worker's access to court by depriving them ability to
> secure representation to obtain a small benefit being denied by the
> employer/carrier.
> The following House members voted for the BAD amendment:
> Alexander (Winter Haven) 850/488-9465
> Harper (West Palm Beach) 850/488-8632
> Allen (Merritt Island) 850/488-4669
> Benson (Pensacola) 850/488-0895
> Flanagan (Bradenton) 850/488-4086
> Kendrick (Carrabelle) 850/488-7870
> Peterman (St. Petersburg) 850/488-0925
> Priequez (Miami) 850/488-4202
> Ritter (Coral Springs) 850/488-2124
> Spratt (Sebring) 850/488-3457
> Trovillion (Winter Park) 850/488-0660
> Waters (Largo) 850/488-6197

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