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Pataki's Workers' Compensation "Deform" Hurts Workers

After 12 years of never raising benefit levels for injured workers, Governor Pataki now wants to add insult to injury. In a transparent attempt to burnish his “right wing” credentials while launching his Presidential ambitions in Iowa, the Governor is proposing workers’ compensation reforms (more accurately labeled “deforms”) which will only put additional strain on the average working man and woman. The proposed reforms, if enacted, would take away benefits from the most seriously injured workers and force them onto the welfare rolls. Can you hear the “ching, ching” of your property taxes going up again? Thats the bottom line of this proposal – shift the cost of unsafe working conditions from employers (where it rightly should be) to taxpayers and local government. I don’t think that Republican Senators, up for re-election next year, will support changes that increase property taxes and hurt individual voters. Much like President Bush’s Social Security “privatization” plan, I certainly hope this so called reform is “dead on arrival“.
In the Governor’s press release, he sites workers’ compensation costs as preventing companies like Delphi, the bankrupt auto parts manufacturer, from remaining competitive in the “global” economy. What a crock! A simple reading of the weekly business papers disproves this misleading statement. Delphi declared bankruptcy on October 8, 2005 in the wake of a corporate scandal involving alleged fraud by senior executives “cooking the books”. The US Securities and Exchange Commission is currently investigating and they are being sued in Federal Court for fraud. Despite the charges, the day before the bankruptcy, Delphi had the audacity to boost severance packages for top executives by $27 million! Delphi entered bankruptcy voluntarily to avoid having to pay pensions to retiring workers because the pension plan was underfunded by more than $ 10.8 billion dollars! Delphi is another Enron. By citing Delphi in his press release, the Governor lost all credibility on the workers compensation issue. We all want to preserve Delphi’s jobs in New York, but workers’ compensation costs have nothing to do with this company’s problems. It may or may not play well in Iowa, but working New Yorkers will see it for what it is – corporate greed.
The problem for manufacturers in New York State is CHINA – not workers compensation costs. If employers would simply take the proper precautions to increase safety in the workplace, workers compesnsation costs would go down. If Governor Pataki’s deform plan is enacted, New York will resemble the poor houses of Dickens’s London more than the proud State that currently exists. Stop gutting the American dream for injured workers. If you would like to help stop this misguided plan in its tracks, contact your State Senator here and tell him you are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore”. Also, feel free to contact me. We’ve got a lot of work to do.

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