Nearly two dozen major corporations have joined together in recent years in an effort to gut workers' compensation laws in the states. Walmart, Lowe's, Macy's, Kohl's, Sysco Food Services and others formed the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers' Compensation (ARAWC) in 2013, and the organization already has had success in Tennessee. Mother Jones takes a look at ARAWC's methods.
After nearly nine years of waiting, two immigrant workers who suffered serious workplace injuries were able to bring their cases to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)—an international body that promotes and protects human rights in the Americas. However, because of dysfunctional U.S. immigration policies the workers could not be in the room. In fact, both of them faced deportation threats after seeking workers’ compensation after their accidents. Now they are challenging the U.S. government's failure to protect their rights from their homes in Mexico, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Employment Law Project and the University of Pennsylvania's Transnational Legal Clinic.
In our regular weekly feature, we'll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the persons or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.
The National Academy of Social Insurance recently examined Census Bureau data and found that social insurance programs have a made a significant dent on the number of people living in poverty in the U.S. More than 45 million people (14.5% of the population) lived in poverty in 2013, but those numbers would be significantly larger if it weren't for programs such as Social Security, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation and Supplemental Security Income.
This Thursday, the Colorado House of Representatives passed H.B. 1383, a bill that would allow workers to choose from a wider selection of doctors after an on-the-job injury. As it stands now, employers/insurers in Colorado only have to offer employees two options to choose from as their doctor for injuries covered by workers’ comp.
The Indiana State AFL-CIO fought for and won dramatic improvements in the workers' compensation system this year. Over the next three years, several major increases in benefits and new workers' rights will be phased in. This will mitigate the effect of workplace injuries on those hurt on the job and their families in the Hoosier State, the Indiana State AFL-CIO reports.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) vetoed a bill on Tuesday that would've created a database of information on all Missouri residents who have filed workers' compensation claims for workplace injuries. The database would have made the personal information of the program filers available to private employers. Nixon said the proposed database is an "affront" to the privacy rights of the state's citizens.
While government in Washington, D.C., remains divided and marked by long-term gridlock, governments in the states are much less divided. Of the 50 states, 37 now feature state governments where the governor and majorities in both legislative houses are controlled by one party—24 of those are controlled by Republicans. Extreme, anti-working family Republicans have repeatedly assaulted the rights of people in recent years and, by all accounts, the trend looks to expand in 2013. Working families are mobilized and fought back in 2012 and will continue to fight in 2013. The response to the "right to work" for less push in Michigan was so strong, that governors in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have since declared that they won't push for right to work in their states.