The Washington State Legislative season is upon us and that means workers’ rights will again be under attack. Employers in Washington state, through the Republican Party, continuously offer bills in Olympia that would reduce the rights of injured workers. They want to cut the amount of compensation to injured workers and exclude many occupational disease claims.
Every Legislative season, we fight against this pro-employer, anti-worker legislation.The Democratic majority in the State House has gone down to one vote which means the Republicans are close to overtaking the House. Because they already control the Senate, we are teetering on the brink of laws being passed that would adversely affect injured workers. Benefit cuts would not only be on new claims, but would include cuts in cost-of-living increases, rights to treatment, and choice of doctors.
The Department of Labor & Industries and employers have already made it very difficult for injured workers to find treating doctors. As we have written in the past, without a supportive doctor, injured workers will not get the benefits they deserve. Legislation has already passed limiting the number of doctors who can see patients under the L & I system. The Department of Labor & Industries is going about eliminating doctors they don’t like – the ones who support their injured patients. This limit on doctors is all due to laws the Republicans, employers, and the Department of Labor & Industries have gotten passed to make the workers’ comp system “more efficient.” Really, the only thing these laws have done is reduce benefits to workers in this state.
One of the best ways to fight this anti-worker trend is for the voters in Washington to let their Representatives and State Senators know that they oppose such laws. As the Legislative session goes on, we will send emails to you explaining the proposed laws and why we oppose them. You can help fight these bad laws by contacting your representatives and forwarding our emails to your friends and family members, urging them to call, email, or write their representatives.
The rights of injured workers in Washington are under attack yet again. Join us and be a part of the fight to preserve worker rights.
Tom Thompson is a partner at The Walthew Law Firm and practices Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Law.