Thursday, November 5, 2009, 11:02 AM - Political developmentsCHSWC has now released documents detailing negotiations between certain employers (including Sean McNally of Grimmway Farms, a CHSWC member) and some labor advocates, including Angie Wei of the California Labor Federation, a CHSWC member).
These documents have been promised since a recent CHSWC vote. DIR Director John Duncan requested that they be released.
Stakeholders in California workers' comp will be analyzing these documents carefully in the coming days.
It's not clear yet how close the negotiating parties were to a deal they could live with. And it's not clear yet how many other stakeholders and interested parties (not to mention politicians) the negotiators would have been (or are able to) bring along with them in forming a deal.
It is clear that significant CHSWC staff support was given to these negotiations.
Here are the documents for you to read:
Here's the introductory letter:
http://www.dir.ca.gov/CHSWC/LaborEmploy ... 202009.pdf
Here's a CHSWC staff report:
http://www.dir.ca.gov/CHSWC/LaborEmploy ... ssions.pdf
Here's draft legislative language:
http://www.dir.ca.gov/CHSWC/LaborEmploy ... ussion.pdf
Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 10:20 PM - Political developmentsGovernor Schwarzenegger has now signed SB 313, a bill which increases penalties for failure to provide workers' comp coverage.
Sponsored by State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, SB 313 will allow penalties of double the monies that would have been paid as premiums by the employer.
Here's my recent post on the bill:
http://workerscompzone.com/index.php?en ... 019-225849
Employer fraud is now a major problem in the comp system. Dishonest employers seek to cut corners, particularly in the sort of industries that hire lots of immigrant service workers. These employers often gain an unfair competitive advantage. And poorly informed employees who are injured are forced to seek treatment at the public's expense when they find that the employer had no insurance.
In the past week there was yet another crackdown on scofflaw car washes. 49 car washes were cited for not carrying workers' comp insurance. Many of these car washes were also cited for other labor law violations.
John Duncan, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations, is quoted (in an article by Greg Griggs on workcompcentral.com) as noting that ...."we found that 12% of California employers are uninsured. This is really frightening and contributes to an increase in workers' comp costs for everyone."
I've been noting this for several years now. Here's my post, "It's the Employer Fraud, Stupid":
http://workerscompzone.com/index.php?en ... 818-110358
Supporters of SB 313 run the gamut from big labor unions to small business advocates.
If anything, one has to wonder whether the penalties are still too small.
The new penalties will probably help deter large employers from skipping comp coverage. But smaller employers may still be willing to run the risk. SB 313 is a great bill. Time will tell whether the penalties need to be hiked much higher, though.
In the meanwhile, it's good to see system stakeholders come together to address a major systemic problem.
Thanks and congratulations are due to all those who helped clear the path for passage of SB 313.
The text of the bill can be found here:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bil ... rolled.pdf
Tuesday, November 3, 2009, 09:01 PM - Political developmentsWe're in a blue state, aren't we?
What's the fuss over Republican resurgence in Virginia and New Jersey?
Today's election results won't have any direct impact on the workers and various "stakeholders" we call the workers' comp community. But it will have impact on issues that affect workers. More about that in a minute.
It's clear that the political landscape is shifting again. The misty eyed rhetoric about change and "we are the ones that we have been waiting for" has faded. The coalition of minorities, the young, labor, independents and the left which elected Obama did not show up today in massive numbers. Democrats lost control of the New Jersey and Virginia governorships as well as a number of down ballot races.
Recent polling has shown that many independent voters are shifting away from Obama, and there may be problems with older voters who are concerned about their Medicare benefits.
So this is the lay of the land as we head toward the end of the year. Mid term elections are just a year away, and incumbents will be looking carefully at their own prospects for re-election. Charlie Cook, a Washington political observer, has noted the possibility of a Republican Congressional tidal wave in 2010
Here is a short laundry list of worker issues that may be affected by the shifting national political landscape:
Today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seemed to signal that a vote on healthcare reform may not happen until early next year. Reid has endorsed some type of "public option" but appears to be having a hard time getting the Senate votes for a bill.
LABOR LAW REFORM
The Employee Free Choice Act would make it easier for unions to organize:
The Administration and its labor allies have not been able to garner sufficient support to move this bill to a vote.The Obama Administration has not expended much political capital on the issue to date. As the mid-terms get closer, it will be harder to move this bill.
IMMIGRATION LAW REFORM
Immigration law reform appears to be on the back burner for now. Efforts to forge a compromise which would bring millions of illegal immigrant workers out of the shadows and give them a path to citizenship appear to be unlikely to succeed anytime soon. The issue has been put on the back burner. With unemployment high, immigration rights advocates face a very high hurdle. If anything, the immigration reform movement has taken a step back as versions of the healthcare reform bill have been drafted to exclude participation by illegals.
It's entirely possible that we'll see little movement on any of these issues over the next year.
Readers of the column know that I was an Obama contributor and supporter. But I've repeatedly noted that the President has been reluctant to lead. I'm afraid that this is coming back to haunt him and his vision now.
I'm not a fan of Ari Fleischer (George Bush's first press secretary). But I'd have to agree with Fleischer's comment tonight on CNN. Things got off to a bad start when Obama rolled over and signed the first Congressional budget bill, filled with pork and earmarks. It set a bad tone, only to be followed by a poorly put together stimulus package that was also a grab bag for a number of Congressional pet projects.
It's not change worthy of believing in.
Those of us who would like to see some change need to recognize what's happened. Coastal California Democrats, unionists and progressives need to take a deep breath. Some of the goals need to be adjusted. Grand schemes may be out.
Workers out of a job or worried about their job are looking for results.
Can the President shift focus onto that? The President has not convinced regular voters that a big healthcare bill will get them and their kids back to work.
It's time to grind out a couple of first downs for workers.
As the sign said in the Little Rock campaign headquarters of Bill Clinton, "it's the economy, stupid!"
Sunday, November 1, 2009, 10:08 PM - Political developmentsWhen the baby boomers among us think of bus drivers, we often think of Ralph Kramden.
Kramden was the bus driver portrayed by Jackie Gleason on The Honeymooners. Big hearted but blustering, Kramden was the epitome of
the 1950s working class, living in a small apartment, hobnobbing with a goofy friend, Ed Norton, who worked for the city sewer system.
But Kramden's world wasn't as malignant as situation that many workers now find themselves in.
The gang rape of a young woman at a Richmond, California high school dance has left much of the public disgusted and outraged. Whether the
event stemmed from perverse crowd behavior or specifically from a gangbanger culture run amok isn't clear.
But what is clear is that in parts of our Golden State there is sick kind of lawlessness. Neighborhoods held hostage by thugs and gangs. Women treated as chattels. Areas where Glocks are king. Areas where children are raising children and the schools are a joke. Kid wearing baggy pants who see no reason to learn and no hope in sight.
Parts of Richmond are like that.
One of my clients was a hero in that environment, just minutes from the site of the Richmond gang rape.
Driving a passenger bus for the local regional transit authority, my client pulled up at one of his stops. Passengers got off the bus. Passengers got on the bus. Business as usual.
Exiting the bus, a 15 year old pulled a weapon, shooting at least 15 rounds at the bus, striking at least 3 passengers.
My client had the presence of mind to hit the accelerator and drive straight to the nearest Richmond emergency room.
Subsequently he was commended by his employer for his stellar effort in responding to the critical situation.
Many a public safety officer or public employee has to serve in these
neighborhoods. Workerscompzone salutes the efforts of these latter day Ralph Kramdens.
The Richmond gang rape:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... 1ACRGU.DTL
The Richmond bus attack:
http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_1327468 ... ost_viewed
Friday, October 30, 2009, 11:18 PM - Political developmentsA.I.G.'s financial practices are under attack in a Los Angeles County lawsuit that could have repercussions for A.I.G. and its business model.
The L.A. lawsuit is not focused on A.I.G. workers' comp practices. But it does target the apparent A.I.G. modus operandi of A.I.G.'s holding company moving assets between different A.I.G subsidiary companies in transnational and cross state line transactions.
There's been concern that A.I.G.'s model skirts effective regulation by state insurance regulators.
In the L.A. case the plaintiffs seek an injunction barring A.I.G from moving money out of California for 90 days. The plaintiffs allege that A.I.G may not have sufficient assets to back its obligations.
The lawsuit raises deeper questions about whether state based regulatory systems can effectively oversee the multinational, multiline insurer.Although the lawsuit largely focuses on A.I.G. life insurance operations, one wonders what we'll find if lawyers and courts get to peel the A.I.G. onion a bit.
Here's a link to the New York Times article by Mary Williams Walsh:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/31/busin ... ig.html?hp