Time to Stop the “Race to the Bottom” in Workers’ Compby Johanna Ryan on March 8th, 2017
Big-business interests in yet another state are pushing a law to “scale back” workers’ compensation benefits. The bill the Iowa legislature will vote on this week is a disaster for injured workers. It includes many of the same provisions Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to implement in Illinois – and has held our state budget hostage to – plus some that are even worse:
• Ending worker benefits at age 67
• “Reducing” benefits for injuries linked to a “pre-existing condition”
• Cutting employer fines for late payment still further
• Denying all benefits in case of a positive drug or alcohol test (even if the substance had nothing to do with the accident)
It’s no surprise that the state’s meatpacking industry is a big backer of this bill, which one state senator has called a “corporate and insurance industry wish list.” The industry maims and disables its line workers at record-breaking rates, while paying them wages that keep many families on the brink of poverty even without a serious injury. And oddly enough, the bill contains a special provision aimed at workers with shoulder injuries—one of the most common injuries in meatpacking plants.
It’s time to stop this race to the bottom in worker safety and economic protection. At EE&A, we stand with labor unions, public-health advocates and anyone else who is resisting these attempts to cripple—and ultimately destroy – workers compensation.