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Workers’ Romp: WI GOP “Chipping Away at Workers’ Rights” With Devastating New Injury Bill

WI Reps. Spiros and Stroebel

WI Reps. Spiros and Stroebel

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The concept of workers’ compensation originated in Wisconsin. But if the state’s GOP has its way, the system created in 1911 will be obliterated before the end of 2015.  

Wisconsin Reps. John Spiros and Sen Duey Stroebel are expected to jointly introduce a bill to gut workers compensation according to a legislative memo that made its rounds last week.  The bill will make dramatic changes to the workers’ compensation system, effectively creating a new system in which workers will be required to prove that their workplace injury was not their fault in order to receive full compensation.  Under the new system, workers will still not be able to sue their employers for workplace injuries.

The bill would also reduce to two years the statute of limitations for traumatic injuries and require that employees get treated within the employers health network. This means company doctors will be making decisions on an injured worker’s treatment with the ability to deny claims at the command of the company.  Spiros and Stroebel, in a joint statement, said their legislation was necessary to prevent abuses in the current system:

“This bill continues to ensure that when an employee is injured at work, the employee will be covered under worker’s comp with the goal of receiving the necessary treatment and returning to work within his or her limitations.  However the bill will also ensure that the system is not abused and the scales of justice remain balanced and impartial.”

On top of squashing existing protections, the proposed bill is expected to allow the state to aggressively investigate fraud claims and exempt employers from paying temporary disability in situations where an employee is fired for “good cause.”  

Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) said the changes would be “devastating to the system,” adding that this bill is typical of the “war on workers” that began when Governor Scott Walker took office in 2011.  According to Sinicki, the proposed bill also circumvents the state’s Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council, a coalition of labor and business leaders which advises the legislature on the issue.  The Daily Cardinal covered her comments:

The most important part of this is striking down 100 years of history on worker’s comp,” Sinicki said, adding that the bill continues a “constant chipping away of worker’s rights and worker protections” initiated by Legislative Republicans.  

“Republicans have disregarded the Advisory Council,” Sinicki said. “It’s not an agreed upon bill, therefore it is not properly introduced to the Legislature.”

We will have updates once the bill is introduced.


2 Comments on “Workers’ Romp: WI GOP “Chipping Away at Workers’ Rights” With Devastating New Injury Bill”

  1. If this legislation is enacted there will be no protection for workers injured on the job. How many will be able to hire an attorney that can fight big company lawyers? The worker will have to prove that it was not their fault? Most injuries are partly the fault of the worker, not deliberately. Things just happen. With the way this bill is designed all injuries will be the workers fault and the company will be given free reign to fire the worker. Good luck fighting in court to get your job back. How can this be? What kind of country are we becoming? Companies already make it hard to collect Workers Comp already. If this passes then there might as well be no Comp at all, because no one will ever get it or a job to come back to.

  2. No surprise here, the GOP is a puppet for the corporations. They dream of the day when America is like China no benefits to the workers and prison if you disagree with them.

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