Author:Moll, Arther I.

Take Out the Ear Plugs And Hear the Wake-up Call

I wonder when management and labor will really hear the wake-up call regarding workers' compensation reform. A recent study completed at the Harvard University School of Government did an excellent job in focusing on the present crisis and the need to achieve reform. The report correctly pointed out that the cost of the present system "has become overwhelming." No one can deny that this burden is no longer manageable and has accelerated the decline in the size of our workforce.

But special interests somehow continue to prevail and try to silence those altruists who place themselves in harm's way. Unless somehow we come to our senses and a leadership emerges that is committed to change, our economy will continue in the doldrums while headlines of layoffs continue to be front page news.

The Harvard report outlined the obvious, that the two primary parries--labor and management --must work together if there is ever to be meaningful reform.

If both parties continue to view themselves as adversaries rather than as partners for progress, then any attempt to enlist the wholehearted support of their constituencies is bound to fail.

Why organized labor continues to tolerate fraudulent claims, or blocks attempts to close loopholes which benefit few at the cost of many, is unexplainable.

For example, during last December's special session of the New York Srate Legislature devoted to reforming the workers' compensation system, a bill designed to limit the amount of money an injured worker could collect from unemployment insurance and workers' compensation died on the vine.

At the present tune, an injured worker can collect more than 100 percent of his pre-accident earnings before taxes. It shouldn't surprise anyone that the injured worker has no incentive to return to work if he or she can earn more by staying at home. I wonder how and who made sure this very logical and just piece of legislation was deleted from the final bill.

Secrion 592 of the New York State Labor Law should be revised to limit me total amount of benefits from both sources. An injured employee should not be able to collect more than his average weekly-wage (compensation payments plus unemployment benefits less federal, state, and local taxes).

If we permit the continuance of this double-dipping, the increased cost of unemployment taxes for employers will surely prevent the expansion of the job market. This is just another example of...

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