Walmart, Lowe’s, Safeway, and Nordstrom Are Bankrolling a Nationwide Campaign to Gut Workers’ Comp

Source: Molly Redden, Mother Jones, March 26, 2015

America’s biggest employers want to pick and choose the benefits they give their injured workers.

Nearly two dozen major corporations, including Walmart, Nordstrom, and Safeway, are bankrolling a quiet, multistate lobbying effort to make it harder for workers hurt on the job to access lost wages and medical care—the benefits collectively known as workers’ compensation.

The companies have financed a lobbying group, the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation (ARAWC), that has already helped write legislation in one state, Tennessee. Richard Evans, the group’s executive director, told an insurance journal in November that the corporations ultimately want to change workers’ comp laws in all 50 states. Lowe’s, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Sysco Food Services, and several insurance companies are also part of the year-old effort.

Laws mandating workers’ comp arose at the turn of the 20th century as a bargain between employees and employers: If a worker suffered an injury on the job, the employer would pay his medical bills and part of his wages while he recovered. In exchange, the worker gave up his right to sue for negligence.
ARAWC’s mission is to pass laws allowing private employers to opt out of the traditional workers’ compensation plans that almost every state requires businesses to carry. Employers that opt out would still be compelled to purchase workers’ comp plans. But they would be allowed to write their own rules governing when, for how long, and for which reasons an injured employee can access medical benefits and wages….
Special Series – Insult To Injury: America’s Vanishing Worker Protections
Source: NPR and ProPublica, 2015

Over the past decade, states have slashed workers’ compensation benefits, denying injured workers help when they need it most and shifting the costs of workplace accidents to taxpayers.

Stories include:
* Injured Workers Suffer As ‘Reforms’ Limit Workers’ Compensation Benefits
* Federal Regulators Link Workers’ Comp Failures To Income Inequality
* ‘Grand Bargain’ In Workers’ Comp Unravels, Harming Injured Workers Further
* As Workers’ Comp Varies From State To State, Workers Pay The Price
* How Much Is A Limb Worth?
* Workers’ Compensation Reforms By State
* California Auditing Insurance Company That Took Away Home Health Aide
* ‘I Lost A Hand And This Is Workman’s Comp. … I Didn’t Lose A Hook!’
* Alabama Bill Would Increase Workers’ Comp Benefits For Amputees
* Employers And Insurers Gain Control In Workers’ Compensation Disputes
* Reddit Ask Me Anything