February 4, 2011
For immediate release
Contact: Jeremy Sprinkle, Communications Director, 336-255-2711, email@example.com
Raleigh, NC (Feb. 4) – Workers, acting together through their unions, will convene the 2011 Labor Legislative Conference on Tuesday, February 8 in Raleigh. There they will call on legislators to support a “Working People’s Agenda” that includes the creation of good jobs and a balanced approach to the budget that combines protection of critical public services with the principle of tax fairness. Workers will also pledge to defend North Carolina’s stable and important workers’ compensation system from unwarranted attacks by some in the business and insurance lobby.
Cutting benefits and restricting eligibility for workers who are hurt or sickened on the job would harm both the families dependent on those benefits and our communities in which they live. Conference delegates will ask members of the General Assembly to protect a system that is working for North Carolina and to make protecting injured workers a priority during the new legislative session.
Our workers’ compensation system is critically important to the workers of our state who are injured or become ill in the service of their employers. In exchange for giving employers immunity from lawsuits, injured employees are entitled to quick and certain, but limited, benefits. This system determines almost completely the future lives of injured employees, including their medical care and the benefits intended to partially replace lost wages on which they and their families survive.
“I’d rather be working and earning full pay but my injuries put an end to that,” said Frankie Moore who until Feb. 2009 had worked 32 years at the Goodyear plant in Fayetteville. “At least with the modest benefits comp provides I can pay for my doctor visits and keep a roof over my head and food on the table.”
Ours has been and continues to be a remarkably stable workers’ compensation system, providing generally adequate benefits at modest cost to employers. The primary argument used to justify cuts – that current benefits jeopardize employers – is simply misplaced. For example, Site Magazine recently rated North Carolina’s business climate in 2010 as the very best in the nation. More, our employers pay less as a percentage of payroll than employers in South Carolina and Tennessee. Indeed, premiums for employers with average safety records are 22% lower in 2010 dollars than fifteen years ago.
Some corporate executives looking for a return on their substantial investments in state legislative campaigns last year have their eyes on changes to our workers’ compensation system. Lawmakers in Raleigh would do well to look the other way. In these tough economic times, there is no sense in fixing what is not broken and making injured workers pay the price. Instead, the legislature should focus on what the people of North Carolina need most right now – jobs. The Labor Legislative Conference Feb. 8 will provide an opportunity for the new Republican House and Senate majorities to hear this message.
To request an interview with a worker or an officer of the NC State AFL-CIO, call 336-255-2711.
Site Selection, November 2010: http://www.siteselection.com/issues/2010/nov/cover/
A Working People’s Agenda: http://www.aflcionc.org/documents/2011-12_Legislative_Agenda.pdf