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Labor, others urge Legislature to oppose workers’ comp bill

OLYMPIA (June 13, 2013) — The following open letter to the State Legislature opposing SB 5127, the Republican-controlled Senate bill that would expand lump-sum settlements in Washington’s workers’ compensation system, was co-signed by dozens of labor organizations, community groups and individual advocates for injured workers and their families. (See the list of signers at the end.)


workers-compWe, the undersigned organizations, oppose the passage of SB 5127 or any inclusion of this bill in the operating budget because it is an attack on our state’s injured worker safety net, and it is not necessary to implement the budget.

SB 5127 presents a false choice for our state’s most disabled workers who have been injured on the job or fallen prey to an occupational disease. Disabled workers facing huge uncertainty and financial distress under SB 5127 would be offered settlement agreements that might seem beneficial in the short run, but in the long run would not allow them to sustain themselves and could lead to higher costs for the state when these settlements run out. It is time to say “No” to injured workers being forced to accept pennies on the dollar, sacrificing benefits that they would otherwise be entitled to under law.

The bill sponsors say that we need to pass this bill because rates are high in Washington State, and so that corporations won’t have to pay higher premiums in the future. But the truth is that workers’ compensation premiums are experience-rated. The safer a work place, the lower the premiums. Employers can control their rates by having a safe work environment. Further, since the beginning of 2012, the workers’ comp system has had no rate increases. Twenty-one states, including South Carolina and California, two states that Boeing is shifting jobs into, actually have higher workers’ compensation premiums than Washington State.

Washington State is continually cited (see here, here, here and here) as a competitive, attractive place to do business.  Labor and Industries presented good news on April 30 when it was revealed that the system’s Contingency Reserve funds increased 64 percent from $580 million in June 2012 to $953 million at the end of 2012. That number is significantly higher than Labor and Industries’ previous projection.

We urge you to oppose SB 5127 and work to pass an operating budget with new revenue to take care of our state’s education and human service needs, a capital budget to build necessary infrastructure and to put thousands of people back to work, and a robust transportation financing package to maintain and preserve our roads and bridges, invest in key economic corridors, and enhance mass transit and a healthy environment.

The Washington state organizations and citizens listed below urge you to please oppose SB 5127.

  • AARP Washington
  • Aerospace Machinists 751
  • American Federation of Teachers, Washington
  • Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers
  • Boilermakers Locals 242, 502
  • Bricklayers Locals 1/OR, 1/WA, 3
  • Carpet Layers Local 1238
  • Cement Masons Locals 72, 478, 528, 555
  • Certified Electrical Workers of WA
  • Corey Hubert, citizen
  • Dave Brueher, citizen
  • Economic Opportunity Institute
  • ElderCare Alliance
  • Elevator Constructors Local 19
  • Faith Action Network
  • Glaziers Local 188
  • Heat & Frost Insulators Locals 7, 82
  • IBEW 77
  • IBEW Locals 46, 48, 73, 76, 112, 191
  • Iron Workers Locals 14, 29, 86
  • IUPAT Locals 10, 300, 364, 427, 1964
  • Jack Smith, citizen
  • James B Hart, citizen
  • Jason Redrup, citizen
  • Kay Haaland, citizen
  • Laborers Locals 238, 242, 252, 276, 292, 335, 348, 791, 901
  • Marla Katz, citizen
  • Mental Health Action
  • National Association of Social Workers – WA Chapter
  • National Organization for Women, Washington State Chapter
  • OneAmerica
  • Operating Engineers Local 302
  • Operating Engineers Local 370
  • Parents Organizing for Economic and Welfare Rights (POWER)
  • Professional and Technical Employees Local 17
  • Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action
  • Rep. Seth Armstrong (retired)
  • Roofers Locals 54, 153
  • SEIU Healthcare 1199 NW
  • SEIU Healthcare 775NW
  • SEIU Local 925
  • Sheet Metal Locals 16, 55, 66
  • Sign Painters Local 1094
  • Sprinkler Fitters Locals 669, 699
  • Statewide Poverty Action Network
  • Street Pavers Local 440
  • Teamsters Joint Council #28
  • Teamsters Local 117
  • Teamsters Local 174
  • UA Locals 26, 32, 44, 290, 598
  • UFCW 1439
  • UFCW 21
  • UFCW 365 (WPEA)
  • UFCW 367
  • UFCW Washington United Council
  • United Faculty of Washington State
  • Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28
  • Washington State Association of Letter Carriers
  • Washington State Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters
  • Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO
  • Washington State Council of County and City Employees
  • Washington State Council of Firefighters
  • Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
  • Washington State Nurses Association
  • Washington State Senior Citizens’ Lobby
  • Worker Center, AFL-CIO


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