UPDATE: This campaign is now moot, because the House and Senate quickly passed the Governor's workers' compensation bill on Monday, May 23 -- within hours of its being made public and this Action Alert being distributed. Read more at The Stand. If you feel so inclined, go ahead and send your emails to your legislators anyway, as a reminder that they voted before they even got a chance to hear from their constituents.
In the waning hours of the special overtime legislative session, Gov. Chris Gregoire and legislative leaders have reached an agreement to cut workers' compensation benefits by more than $800 million in the next four years, on top of the $330 million in system savings agreed to by both business and labor interests. The plan includes legalizing "settlements" for older workers where employers can negotiate buyouts of less than what injured workers would otherwise receive. That element alone will cost injured workers nearly $550 million and is considered a first step to privatization of the system, which Washington voters overwhelmingly rejected last fall.
Gov. Gregoire and legislative leaders call it "the largest reform in the workers' compensation system's 100-year history." But it has no bill number yet because IT ISN'T PUBLICLY AVAILABLE. Nonetheless, they plan to vote on it in the House and Senate later today and tomorrow -- without a public hearing.
TAKE ACTION: Legislators have received thousands of emails from union members and advocates for injured workers urging against legalizing any form of lump-sum buyouts for injured workers. Apparently, legislative leaders believe lowering business taxes are a bigger priority. Please contact your Representatives and Senators and tell them: "Vote NO on the Governor's workers' comp reform! It is shameful -- government at its worst -- to ram through the biggest changes in the system's 100-year history -- including hundreds of millions of dollars in benefit cuts -- without so much as a public hearing."