Earlier this year, NPR and ProPublica began their “Insult to Injury” series, highlighting the dismantling of workers’ compensation nationally. Last week, they followed up on the investigation, making startling revelations.
“Nearly 1.5 million workers in Texas and Oklahoma do not receive state-mandated benefits under heavily regulated workers’ compensation and are dependent instead on alternative, largely unregulated benefits plans controlled by employers,” reports NPR.
“What is being allowed is the employer to have absolute and complete control over every aspect of the system,” says Rick Levy, an attorney for the Texas AFL-CIO. “No negotiation. No compromise. No standards. No due process.”
Workers’ comp was founded on the premise that employers owed a duty to injured workers and their families. And laws in every state require them to pay workers’ medical bills and some of their lost wages until they recover — or for life if they can’t.
Earlier this year, a ProPublica and NPR investigation detailed how states have chipped away at these guarantees. A series of new laws has cut benefits, given employers and insurers more control over medical care, and made it more difficult for workers to qualify for coverage. But other than Texas and Oklahoma, no state has allowed companies to simply opt out.
As other states deny rights to millions, we are lucky to be in Washington, a national model for protecting the rights of workers. WSAJ will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that all workers have access to compensation in our great state.