Looming North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Study Sparks Concern among Labor Leaders

January 31, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

It’s not often that a North Carolina workers’ compensation study becomes a lightning rod for political controversy.

But we live in unusual times.

In December, NC state lawmakers established a nine member commission of state legislators (made up of almost all Republicans) to study North Carolina workers’ compensation. The commission will release a report in February — a document that could have profound implications for the nearly 90,000 state employees of the Old North State.

Some union leaders and their advocates are concerned about how this study will be conducted. Specifically, they fret that it will fail to take into account workers’ positions.

An organizer for the NC’s Public Service Workers’ Union, UE Local 150, Dante Strobino, told a local paper “they [the legislators] could fast track the study and give us even less time for worker and public input. Or they could just scrap it altogether and make whatever cuts they want based on purely ideological arguments.”

North Carolina has banned collective bargaining for public workers — it’s only one of two states in the entire union to do so — so unions believe that they are particularly disempowered here. Workers worry that legislators will cut off so called longevity pay for state workers; change retirement and healthcare benefits; and even write a ban on collective bargaining into the state’s constitution.

Workers’ advocates also fear any changes that might make public sector work appear more distasteful. Talented people might opt out of government careers and flee to the private sector. This brain drain could then stimulate leadership crises among the ranks of public workers.

It’s hard to separate truth from facts, especially when it comes to heated issues, like North Carolina workers’ compensation reform. Advocates on both sides tend to approach the topic from an ideological point of view. So we often reach a point of gridlock. Name-calling and fear mongering rule.

That’s obviously not so great.

We cannot square the circle regarding how this study should be done.

But if you’re a worker – or a friend or loved one of a worker – who has been struggling with an injury or illness, we can help you. We at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo are renowned for winning complex and difficult workers’ comp cases. We can provide a free, thorough, confidential consultation. Don’t wait another day to get answers to the stuff that’s been confusing you: call our team now.

 
 

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