AWB: ESB 5566 Will Minimize Sting in Workers-Comp Rates

April 14, 2011

A bill – generally supported by employers and opposed by labor – will alleviate workers compensation rates in Washington state. At issue are reforms, especially allowing workers to receive voluntary lump-sum payments instead of pensions.

At this writing, ESB 5566 is stalled in a Washington State Legislature committee – the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee, which is chaired by Mike Sells, D-Everett.

That’s despite support from the Association of Washington Business (AWB) and former Washington and Oregon Labor & Industries Director Gary Weeks. Mr. Weeks has been quoted as saying voluntary settlements work in 44 other states and they save money – $1.2 billion by Washington L&I estimates.

“We have two weeks to go and while the prospects for passage maybe dim, it is never over until it’s over, as Yogi Berra would say,” says AWB President Don Brunell. “Keep contacting the Governor and House members.  If they say no, don’t give up because the answer is always no until it is yes.”

Mr. Brunell asserts the bill’s passage will alleviate the pain on business.

“Because without reforms such as incorporated in ESB 5566, we are likely to look at double-digit workers compensation rage increases in 2012,” he says.

“Some are saying 20 percent or higher,” he adds. “So while I know that killing voluntary settlements makes absolutely no sense, this all about politics.”

That’s my sense, too. Candidly, I’ve worked with Mr. Brunell and his fine staff in whom I have the utmost confidence.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are AWB’s tips on what you can do.

I cannot say that I do not disagree with you.”

– Groucho Marx

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