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Update on Workers' Compensation Bills: The Threat Remains

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Keep up the pressure on HB 709 and SB 544

Workers’ compensation, of course, is critically important to our members, and all workers.  We have a remarkably stable system in NC, one that pays relatively adequate benefits at a moderate cost to employers.  We helped fight off three direct attacks on the system in the past two decades.  This year, we are faced with both a new attack and a legislature more receptive to workers’ comp reform than in the past.

Click here for our Legislative Alert on Workers' Comp HB 709 / SB 544 (PDF).

A number of workers’ compensation bills have been introduced.  One, introduced by Senator Doug Berger (who received our “Friend of the Worker” award at our legislative conference earlier this year) would improve the law in several ways.  But the bill that is moving and on which attention is focused is HB 709 (a companion bill has been filed in the Senate, SB 544).  The bill would reduce benefits, make eligibility more difficult, and eliminate many privacy protections, as we have outlined in previous reports.

We have helped turn out workers to two meetings so far;  have been directly involved in helping to subdue potentially unfavorable testimony;  have been involved in decisions about how to address certain parts of the bill, and have fought against the bill in many other ways.  We are working with the lawyers in the workers’ compensation section of the NC Advocates for Justice, as we have in past years on this issue.  Those lawyers have both expertise and financial resources to put into the fight, and some are working very hard in opposition to the bill.  Although we have a good working relationship with these lawyers, rest assured that we are making our own independent judgments about the bill, with the help of Hank Patterson, who has been through these battles for 30 years, to insure that the interests of workers are being safeguarded.

We will keep you advised, as we have so far, as developments unfold on this important bill.

Have you called your state lawmakers, yet?

Click here to look up your elected state lawmakers online. Then, call the capital switchboard at 919-733-7928 and ask to be connected to his or her office. When you call, be polite. If no one answers, leave a message. Be sure to include your name, phone number, the city or town where you live, and ask for a response.

Deliver this message:

"Oppose House Bill 709 and Senate Bill 544. Working families back home are counting on legislators to protect our stable workers compensation system and make protecting injured workers--not corporate profits and insurance companies--a priority."

Click here to read the New & Observer article, "Workers’ compensation is back on the front burner".