May 2012 News


Workers Comp 5.31

Insurance commissioner advises boosting workers' comp insurance rates  California’s insurance commissioner is recommending that workers’ compensation insurers boost average base rates by 8.26 percent for new and renewing policies starting July 1.

Bill Addressing Spinal Surgery Devices Passes California Senate A bill aimed at ending double payments for spinal surgery devices passed state Senate resoundingly on Wednesday and is now on its way to Assembly. Senate Bill 959 will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars per year, according to its author, Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance. “By lowering the pass-through we will save between $40 and $60 million annually,” Lieu said.

Cost of Drug Testing Soars A new report by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) documents an astonishing increase in the number and cost of drug screening tests.  Insurance companies and employers in California paid nearly $100 million for drug tests in 2011, almost 200 times what they paid eight years earlier. The annual cost of drug testing in the state’s work comp system is expected to approach $150 million this year.

California bills add job protections for family caregivers Assembly Democrats approved two bills Wednesday that would expand protections for California workers who care for children or family members, acting over the objections of Republicans who called the bills “job killers.”

Calif. grocery chain workers move closer to strike Workers at one of Northern California's largest supermarket chains are moving closer to a possible strike after the supermarket declared an impasse in talks over a new contract.

Workers at California Wire Mill Support Striking Workers in Kent, WA Workers at a Davis Wire mill in Irwindale honored picket lines that were established on Wednesday night by striking Teamsters in Washington State. Picket lines were set up at the company's facility at 10 PM.


State News 5.31

CalBuzz: Field Poll: Term Limits Reform,Tobacco Tax Leading  California voters look like they’re about to do the right thing: partially repeal one of the worst “reforms” they’ve ever adopted: term limits for members of the Assembly and State Senate.


Workers Comp 5.30

Calif. workers comp advisory pure premium rate hike of 8.25% is approved California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has approved a California workers compensation advisory pure premium rate hike amounting to 8.25% for new policies and those renewing on or after July 1, 2012.

Lopez: Bring farmworkers' plight into the sunlight  Growers worried about a possible labor shortage need to sharpen their political tools and spur Washington to take action.

Bill Would Strengthen Farmworker Heat Safeguards The California Legislature is working longer hours this week to consider hundreds of bills before a Friday deadline. Farmers and farmworker advocates are watching one bill in particular that would revamp rules to protect those toiling under the summer heat.

Conservative groups target farm bill  Conservative groups have made it official — they hate the Senate farm bill and will push Tea Party fiscal hawks in Congress to defeat it.

Lack of workers puts harvest in jeopardy California may have one of the worst unemployment rates in the country, but in one industry, there's more work than there are people to do it. The San Joaquin County Farm Bureau said the number of seasonal workers is down about 20 to 30 percent this year.

Steelworkers union undermines Northern California refinery workers strike For the second time since the beginning of March, refinery workers at Tesoro’s Golden Eagle Refinery in Martinez, California have voted to authorize a strike. Since the first strike authorization, however, the United Steelworkers (USW) has worked hard to isolate the refinery workers. The Golden Eagle is Tesoro’s largest refinery, capable of processing 166,000 barrels per day.

New WCRI Webinar: Compliance With Narcotics Guidelines Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States with over fifteen thousand people dying last year from an overdose - about 40 deaths per day.


State News 5.30

California voters still support Jerry Brown's call for tax hikes  But skepticism about how lawmakers would use the money could derail the governor's plan, and winning over independents is key, poll finds.


Workers Comp 5.29

When employers fail to adhere to OSHA standards there is a good chance accidents will occur. Falling off ladders and roofs are common ways workers sustain back related injuries. To help protect workers from workplace falls and spinal-cord injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has implemented a number of fall-protection standards. For instance, employees working more than 7 1/2 feet above the ground, such as on scaffolding (when guardrails and safety nets are not available), are required to use personal-fall arrests, personal-fall restraints or positioning systems.

San Diego Chiropractor Licensed to Testify in Personal Injury and Workman's Compensation Trials San Diego chiropractor Dr. Kien Ta, who runs CK Chiropractic, is board certified by the American Medical Board of Independent Medical and Chiropractic Examiners to testify in personal injury trials. He is also certified by the State of California as a licensed Medical Evaluator in workman's compensation cases. So far, he has treated over 10,000 patients suffering back and neck pain resulting from personal and work injuries.

Guest worker idea stuck in web of politics "You'd think agriculture would have Republican politicians on our side, but on this issue we don't," Kevin Andrew was saying as we toured some grape fields north of Bakersfield, where farmworkers were thinning vines.

Golden Gate Ferry workers go on strike Ferry service across San Francisco Bay is being disrupted after Golden Gate Ferry workers represented by the Inlandboatmen's Union walked off the job on a one-day strike Saturday.

Study: Cal/OSHA Inspections Save Lives Research published yesterday in Science sheds light on a hot-button political issue: the role and effectiveness of government regulation. Does it kill jobs or protect the public?

Farmers scrambling to find harvest labor Skip Foppiano of Morada Produce is praying for cool weather. The San Joaquin County grower and packer is thick into cherry harvest season and is short on labor - 20 to 30 percent fewer pickers than he had last year.


State News 5.29

Bill deadline nears in California Legislature  The Assembly and Senate will be working longer hours in floor sessions this week to consider hundreds of bills facing a Friday deadline to be acted upon in their house of origin.

California 'Public Employees' Bill of Rights' stalls  A legislative committee Friday held back a sweeping measure that would have extended some job protections to rank-and-file state workers and given civil servants explicit preference for work the state needs to have done.

Cutting Workers' Hours May Not Save in Long Run Governor Jerry Brown wants to cut state worker pay by 5 percent, to help close California's $16 billion budget gap. To get the expected $800 million in savings, the Governor is proposing to shorten the workweek for state employees. But a cut to the state payroll now could drive up state costs later.


Workers Comp 5.25

Medical Payments per Claim in California Growing Rapidly After Steep Post-Reform Decreases, New WCRI Study Reports  The costs per claim of medical treatments for injured workers in California were growing rapidly after large decreases that resulted from system reforms in prior years, according to a new study,CompScope™ Medical Benchmarks for California 12th Edition, from the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI).


State News 5.25

California lawmakers switch schedule for extra pay  California lawmakers have again adjusted their legislative calendar to accommodate a holiday weekend, allowing them to continue collecting their $142-a-day per diem payments while they are away from the capital during the break.

Walters: New California voting rules alter campaigning  This year's California elections will test the theory that having independently drawn districts and a top-two primary ballot will result in a less polarized, more collegial and more relevant political structure.

4-day week for state workers likely to slow area's recovery  Elias Silhi, owner of Tony's Deli in downtown Sacramento, has unpleasant memories of "furlough Fridays," and gets nervous imagining what an encore would look like.


Workers Comp 5.24

Workplace fatalities rise in confined spaces  From a Napa winemaker to a paint manufacturing employee in Fullerton, seven Californians died last year while working in a confined space – an uptick in a category of workplace fatalities that are readily preventable, experts said.

California DWC Posts Annual Audit Unit Report The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) has posted the 2011 DWC Audit Unit annual report on its website. The Audit Unit annual report provides information on how claims administrators audited by the DWC in 2010 performed and includes a ranking report.

UPDATE 1-Tesoro says L.A.-area workers ratify contract Refinery workers at Tesoro Corp's 97,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) plant in Wilmington, California, near Los Angeles, ratified the company's contract offer, Tesoro said on Thursday.

Los Angeles Gasoline Jumps on Tight Supplies, Tesoro Union Votes California-blend gasoline in Los Angeles jumped to the highest level against futures in five days before a contract vote at Tesoro Corp. (TSO)’s Los Angeles refinery and after the Energy Department said West Coast gasoline inventories dropped for the sixth straight week.

Court Workers to Decide on Possible Strike There are few experiences in San Francisco more excruciating than waiting in line outside the Hall of Justice to take care of a traffic ticket. People crane their necks, instinctively trying to snatch a sight of the front of the line. Somebody inevitably says, "Why are three of the windows closed?" And then someone  else inevitably says, "Man, this place sucks."

Labor Enforcement Task Force Announces Public Hotline for Complaints and Tips California's Labor Enforcement Task Force (LETF), a multiple agency collaborative effort to combat the underground economy and improve the state's business environment, has announced a public hotline, 855-297-5322, for California workers and employers to call in documented complaints or provide enforcement tips. 

Cal/OSHA cites Southern California Recycling Company for multiple safety violations California Department of Industrial Relations' (DIR) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) yesterday issued 36 citations totaling $38,895 in penalties to American Reclamation, Inc., a solid waste company in Los Angeles, its recycling subsidiary, South Coast Fibers, Inc. and their staffing agency, Steno Employment Services, Inc.   


State News 5.24

Approval of Gov. Jerry Brown slips in public opinion poll  For the first time in a major California poll since Brown took office, a plurality of likely voters disapproves of the job he is doing, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday.

CalBuzz: PPIC Survey Exposes CA Voters’ Self-Contradictions  California voters remain resolutely self-conflicted in the face of a $16-billion budget deficit and a pledge by the Legislature to institute automatic cutbacks if new revenues are not forthcoming: maaaybe they’ll approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-hike measure, but if they should refuse they don’t want the spending cuts needed to balance the budget.


Workers Comp 5.23

Commentary: Comprehensive efforts show commitment to heat safety  Of all the sectors in the California economy, agriculture has been the most proactive in addressing the safety of employees who work outside on hot days.

Adovcate for Farm Workers, Health Care Applauded  Salud Para La Gente's Dori Rose Inda has created a model to get injured agriculture workers treatment and back to work. For the second time this month, Dr. Dori Rose Inda was honored for her effort to improve access to health care for seasonal and agricultural workers across the state.

Increased drug testing for painkillers increases Calif. workers comp costs: Study The widespread use of narcotic painkillers to treat injured workers has fueled exponential growth in drug testing, which added $100 million in costs to California’s workers compensation system in 2011, according to a study released Tuesday.

Tesoro refinery workers reject contract offer Workers at one of California's largest oil refineries, in Martinez, may go on strike after rejecting a contract offer from the plant's owner, raising the possibility of another gasoline price hike in the state.


State News 5.23

Walters: Jerry Brown struggles on three fronts on state budget  As the state budget's deficit widens, Gov. Jerry Brown is being thrust into a three-front political battle.

Libertarians fight business-labor coalition on term limits measure  Out-of-state libertarians are trying to defeat a term limits measure on the June ballot, but so far, they haven't been able to match the financial heft of the coalition of unions and business interests backing it.


Workers Comp 5.22

Lawsuit Filed Against Three Santa Monica Area Car Wash Facilities For Unlawful Labor Policies A lawsuit was filed today on behalf of Latino car wash workers against three Santa Monica car wash facilities for "unlawful labor policies and practices resulting in thousands of hours of free labor at each carwash," according to the suit.

Save Mart and grocery union workers extend contract talks Save Mart Supermarkets has agreed to another contract extension with its union workers, as negotiations continue to drag on in Northern California's supermarket industry. The Modesto-based grocer and the United Food and Commercial Workers agreed over the weekend to extend their pact until May 29.

California relies on oil firms to probe worker's death  Nearly a year after a Kern County oil worker was sucked underground and boiled to death, state authorities have turned to the two leading oil companies involved in the incident to investigate it.

Immigrants rally at California Capitol for rights of domestic workers  Neira Ortega said she left Oaxaca, Mexico, 15 years ago for a better life in California. She said she didn't realize she would end up a virtual prisoner in her employer's Chula Vista home.

Union Rights Are Civil Rights The right of U.S. workers to organize and bargain collectively with their employers unhindered by employer or government interference has been a legal right since the 1930s.  Yet there are workers who are unaware of that, and employers who aim to keep them unaware, meanwhile doing their utmost to keep them from exercising what is a basic civil right.

California Workers Compensation Laws Remain Sticking Point For NFL, Players NFL teams earned what could be a powerful victory on May 1, as the California Workers Compensation Board handed down a ruling preventing a former NFL player from taking advantage of California's employee-advantageous workers compensation laws.


State News 5.22

California pay commission to consider 5 percent cut for state elected officials  One week after Gov. Jerry Brown proposed slicing state workers' pay by 5 percent, the Democratic governor and legislators find themselves targeted for a "share the pain" salary cut.

Walters: Incredible complexity of school finance hits home  When Gov. Jerry Brown called the state budget "a pretzel palace of incredible complexity" last week, he was stating, in his inimitable way, the obvious.


Workers Comp 5.21

California delivers blow to player workers’ compensation claims Last year at this time, the NFL and NFLPA weren’t able to agree on many things.  Eventually, they agreed on enough things to end the lockout.

Picker's psychiatric claim barred because fall was not unusual  In California, a worker's sudden fall from a ladder while working in a job that required him to climb ladders is not uncommon, unusual, or unexpected.

Workplace safety checks, profit loss not linked While businesses bemoan the cost of regulations, a new study suggests that government enforcement of workplace health and safety rules can save lives without sapping a company's bottom line.

On Immigrant Day, California Offers Signs of Hope Today is the last day to register to vote in the June 5th election in California. Even though voter registration deadlines come and go each year, for immigrant communities in California this one is critical because there’s probably more at stake this election year for immigrants and their families than ever.

Taking slice out of labor key to Gov. Jerry Brown's tax campaign Demanding a 5 percent pay cut is a curious way to reward some of your strongest political allies. But taking a slice from the hide of labor has become a key component to Gov. Jerry Brown's strategy of getting voters to pass his tax hikes in the fall.

California workers’ comp premiums climbing—again July 1 the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) will present its case for a 4.5 percent pure premium hike to State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.  The commissioner does not set insurance rates, but during the past year Jones has established a new pure premium benchmarking system that the WCIRB is following for the July 1 hearing.

Medical treatment under WC Do ambulatory surgery center owners do more surgery? If so, is that bad? What are the implications for workers' comp? On an anecdotal level, I recently had minor hand surgery at an ASC. The facility was incredibly efficient, with far less bureaucracy than I had experienced with even more minor procedures in a hospital setting.


State News 5.21

Governor seeks to cut programs Dems pledge to save  Gov. Jerry Brown's latest budget proposal attempts to close a formidable $15.7 billion deficit, but the real debate at the Capitol in the next few weeks probably will be over how to cut just a fraction of the big

Skelton: 'Tax the rich' is the opposite of reform  Gov. Jerry Brown defends his soak-the-rich tax proposal as just. And besides, he says, it's popular with the non-rich.

Utah's experiment with 4-day workweek has lessons for California  As Gov. Jerry Brown and labor unions negotiate to put state workers on a four-day, 38-hour workweek to cut payroll costs, they could learn a lot by looking east – to Utah.

The State budget: What's the problem?  Here we go again. If it's May, California's state budget deficit has developed another beer gut – bloated and seemingly unmanageable.


Workers Comp 5.18

Study: Safety inspections don't hurt profits While businesses bemoan the cost of regulations, a new study suggests that government enforcement of workplace health and safety rules can save lives without sapping a company's bottom line.

California DWC Issues Announcements Related To E-Medical Billing The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) will participate in the “California eBill Webinar Educational Series” organized by the California Medical Association, the California Orthopedic Association, the American Medical Association and hosted by Jopari Solutions.

Why Workers’ Comp Claimants Hire Attorneys Workplace trust, fear of claim denial and injury severity are the main reasons for attorney representation in workers’ compensation claims, said Bogdan Savych, a public policy analyst with the Workers

Worker's arm severed by industrial lathe A 60-year-old Southern California man's arm has been severed by an industrial lathe. Orange County Fire Authority Chief Dave Phillips says the arm was severed below the elbow late Thursday in what he calls an immediate and traumatic amputation.


State News 5.18

Walters: Feud colors clash over California's health care rates The stage is set for an immense political clash over regulation of health insurance with multibillion-dollar stakes and an impact on virtually every Californian.

California Supreme Court to decide if illegal immigrant can practice law  The California Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to consider whether the State Bar has the authority to license an undocumented immigrant and allow him to become a practicing lawyer.


Workers Comp 5.17

Dolores Huerta Looks Back on 50 Years of the UFW UFW workers on strike in 1998 at D'Arrigo Brothers near Salinas. Starting Friday, thousands of farmworkers and their supporters from across the U.S. will gather in Bakersfield for a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the United Farm Workers. One of the featured speakers is Dolores Huerta, a longtime activist who, together with Cesar Chavez, began organizing California farmworkers five decades ago.

California WCIRB Offers Testimony About System Cost Drivers At a recent California Department of Insurance (CDI) public hearing, Bill Mudge, the WCIRB’s President and CEO and Dave Bellusci, the WCIRB’s Chief Actuary, testified before the Insurance Commissioner in support of the WCIRB’s July 1, 2012 Pure Premium Rate Filing (Filing).

Report: Workers' comp insurers face mixed bag as economy recovers  Improvements and further deterioration may both result from the different directional trends expected as the economy recovers, according to a new report. While premiums may improve, profitability may be reduced.

Bengals want workers comp order upheld The Cincinnati Bengals are asking a federal judge to enforce an order that requires dozens of former players to move their workers comp claims from California to Ohio.

California Legislator Calls for Hearing on Intervenor Fees State Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, has become the latest person to question intervenor fees, calling on the California Department of Insurance to review a state program that allows consumer groups to intervene in insurance rate cases.


State News 5.17

Even with Brown's proposed tax, California could face chronic deficits  Even if voters approve Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal for higher taxes this fall, his ballot initiative would be only a partial solution to the state's chronic budget deficits.

Steinberg: Democrats seeking alternatives to some budget cuts  Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg today repeated a pledge to look for budget solutions that would allow lawmakers to preserve some services targeted with steep cuts under Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget plan.

Skelton: A little Brown wizardry needed to fix budget  The governor's policies have been mostly solid, but he hasn't exercised his full political muscle to get state finances in order.

Iowa governor warns California: We are coming to take your jobs  Every year that California has budget trouble -- basically the last 10 -- another state licks its lips and boasts how it will reap the benefits as businesses and residents flee the Golden State. These poachers are usually more conservative southwestern states like Arizona or longtime California rival Texas. So, um, add Iowa to the list.


Workers Comp 5.16

The Erosion of Workers Compensation Reimbursement and Patient Choice Undoubtedly, physicians have heard the grumblings of their patients.  Health insurance premiums continue to rise, and patients are exposed to higher financial burdens.  First, they bear an increased expense in contributing to the portion of the premium not paid by their employer. 

Female Farmworkers Abuse: Migrant Workers Commonly Suffer Sexual Assault And Harassment, Human Rights Group Says  Farmworker women across the United States are commonly sexual harassed and assaulted, in part because their immigration status makes them fearful of calling police, according to a report being released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch.


State News 5.16

Fitch on new California budget problems: Don't panic  A Wall Street rating agency on Tuesday called California's new, eye-catchingly large $16-billion deficit "unsurprising" and said it expected little progress until after primary elections next month.

Questions swirl around Jerry Brown's plan to cut state workers' hours  One day after Gov. Jerry Brown proposed sweeping changes to state government work schedules, many employees were still deciphering what it means for them.

Walters: California politicians bet big  Poker players often use the phrase "betting on the come" to describe a willingness, if instincts and odds indicate, to wager big on the hope that they will draw winning cards.

Calbuzz Classics: How to Think About Budget Mess  Watching the sad spectacle of Governor Gandalf yet again expounding on California’s budget horrors Monday was like going to see one of those dreadful, anemic sequels to a long-ago tapped-out blockbuster franchise.


Workers Comp 5.15

California Subcontractors Welcome News Of Apprehended Owners And Employees Using Phony Names And Phony Claims Building a facade to avoid tax obligations ultimately caught up with construction businessman, George Osumi II,

Kaiser Permanente, union announce labor contract Kaiser Permanente and a coalition of unions have reached a tentative three-year labor agreement including a companywide Total Health program to reduce the health care provider's own medical costs. The announced deal would affect nearly 10,000 Kaiser emplo

Evaluating and Negotiating Workers’ Compensation Claims Closing a workers’ compensation claim  involves a two-step process: evaluation and negotiation.  On Ringler Radio, host Larry Cohen joins colleague, Teddy Snyder, Esq. and Attorney Sylvia Lopez from Bakersfield, California, to talk about closing workers’

Calif. Bill Would Grant Work Permits to Illegals A coalition of liberal Democratic lawmakers and conservative ranchers is trying to build support in California for a bill that would grant work permits to thousands of illegal immigrants already working in the state.

Boxer presses NRC on questions at Calif nuke plant California Sen. Barbara Boxer is pushing federal regulators for details about the troubled steam generators at the idled San Onofre nuclear power plant.

Cincinnati Bengals want workers comp order upheld that moves claims from California to Ohio The Cincinnati Bengals are asking a federal judge to enforce an order that requires dozens of former players to move their workers comp claims from California to Ohio.


State News 5.15

Optimistic projections led to dramatic surge in California budget deficit  Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday that the state budget deficit had grown by a remarkable 70 percent since January, but fiscal experts said the economy had little to do with it.

Jerry Brown's plea to voters: 'Please increase taxes temporarily'  Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal for closing California's $16-billion funding gap includes 4-day state workweeks and Medi-Cal cuts. He warns that cuts will be even more severe if voters reject tax hikes on the November ballot.


Workers Comp 5.14

California DWC Posts WCIS Administrative Penalty Regs For Comment The Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) has drafted regulations providing for the assessment of administrative penalties for Workers’ Compensation Information System (WCIS) reporting violations and posted them to the online forum where members of the public may review and comment on the proposal.

Report: Workers’ Compensation Premium Grows But Market Results Still ‘Conflicted’ Workers’ compensation premium grew by 7.4 percent in 2011, a positive sign for the state of the line. However, the combine ratio for the workers’ comp line remains at an unsustainable level, according to a new report.

Grower loses bid to avoid re-hiring fired worker A California raspberry grower has lost a court bid to avoid re-hiring a farm worker fired for union activity. The Santa Cruz Sentinel

Kaiser Permanente, unions agree to 3-year national contract Health provider Kaiser Permanente and a coalition of unions of its workers reached agreement on a three-year contract early Saturday that covers wages, benefits and wellness programs for employees.

Plan To Legalize California Workers Facing Hurdles Over the last two years, six states in the United States have raised questions of constitutionality by approving laws designed to make it harder for illegal immigrants to live and work in the U.S. Now, the state with the largest population of undocumented workers is poised to focus the spotlight on immigrations but at the opposite end of the spectrum from the other six states.

California DWC Appoints Dr. Rupali Das As Executive Medical Director  The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) today announced the appointment of Dr. Rupali Das to the position of executive medical director for DWC.


State News 5.14

State's swelling deficit will bring painful cuts. Where to start?  Gov. Jerry Brown's announcement that the state's deficit has swelled to $16 billion (from a $9.2-billion estimate in January) means that a new array of budget cuts are likely. But where to cut?

Dan Walters Daily: Lawmakers fiddle while Californians vote VIDEO: Dan Walters


Workers Comp 5.11

Workers' Compensation E-Billing Webcasts Will Drive Industrywide Engagement A national electronic billing (eBill) engagement campaign is now underway to empower workers' compensation Practice Management Vendors, Physician Practices and Payers.  Free webcasts in May are part of a vital educational campaign from the American Medical Association (AMA), the California Medical Association (CMA) and California Orthopaedic Association (COA), with participation by the California Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) and Jopari Solutions, a principal supplier of integrated medical transaction electronic data interchange (EDI) services to the Property and Casualty Industry. 

California immigration plan to legalize workers faces hurdles In the past two years, Arizona and five other red states made national waves and raised constitutional questions by passing laws designed to crack down on illegal immigration. Now, lawmakers in the biggest blue state are poised to focus the immigration spotlight in another direction.

California may ban employers from asking for Facebook passwords The state Assembly passes a bill that would make anything workers designate as private on social networks off-limits to employers.


State News 5.11

Jerry Brown submits tax-hike petitions  Gov. Jerry Brown and backers of his tax initiative submitted petitions Thursday to county elections officials they said contain nearly twice the number of signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, but the governor acknowledged the measure isn't a cure-all and warned he will unveil "severe" new cuts to state spending next week.

Gov. Jerry Brown warns more budget cuts are coming Brown issued the warning while delivering boxes of petitions to election officials requesting that his proposed tax hike be placed on the November ballot.


Workers Comp 5.10

California Department of Transportation Honors 178 Workers Killed On The Job At its 22nd Annual Workers Memorial today, California Department of Transportation honored its 178 employees who lost their lives on the job, including three San Diego-area workers who were killed in separate incidents last year.

Workers compensation market ‘conflicted' despite economy's rebound: NCCI News and analysis about the legislative, legal and insurance market issues that affect workers compensation managers, as well as strategies for reducing comp claims and costs, promoting workplace safety and returning injured employees to work.

California: Costs for spine disorders exceed average costs for all injuries  Spine disorders with spinal cord or root involvement account for 1.4 percent of all California job injury claims, but nearly 7 percent of all workers' comp paid losses. The California Workers' Compensation Institute also reports that more than two-thirds of these injuries result in permanent disability.

Jerry Brown appoints Caltrans chief, honors workers  Gov. Jerry Brown today defended the work of the public sector as that which "ties us together," speaking at a memorial for Caltrans employees killed while working last year.

California Immigration Plan to Legalize Workers Faces Hurdles If Manuel Perez can persuade Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature to take a stand, California could be the next state to insert itself into the national immigration debate by adopting a role that belongs to the federal government.


State News 5.10

Jerry Brown tells unions state payroll costs need to come down  State workers' pay is back on the budget chopping block. Officials representing Gov. Jerry Brown met with state employee union leaders last week and delivered the news: A budget revision he'll release Monday includes a new proposal to cut payroll costs in the upcoming fiscal year.

On gay marriage, Obama and Californians in sync?  Perhaps President Obama is, deep down, a Californian ... at least on same-sex marriage.


Workers Comp 5.09

Bay Area Business Owners, Employee Nailed For Workers’ Comp Fraud Sied “Mike Zarrin” Zarrinsaray, 52, his wife Ronak Barazandeh, 43, the owners of United RMR Enterprises, Inc. of San Jose, were arrested for workers’ compensation insurance fraud, according to the California Department of Insurance.

California farm workers a vital asset to be protected Firebaugh, Calif., melon grower Joe L. Del Bosque takes special interest when the subject is farm workers, since he employees about 900 seasonal workers each year on his farm and packing shed, as well as for his farm labor contracting business.


State News 5.09

California senators announce plan for keeping state parks open  Democratic state Sens. Joe Simitian and Noreen Evans today rolled out a proposal aimed at keeping the gates open at more than 50 California state parks set to close this summer.

Walters: California government reformers face gut check on ballot proposal  California's political dysfunction is now an accepted fact, and as noted here previously, reform has become something of a cottage industry.

Riggs: Facebook, California's Number-One Frenemy  Initial stock sale offers both reward and risk for state's troubled treasury.

Morain: Profits up, deficit rising – blame tax breaks  In California, corporate profits are not merely up. They are "booming," the Legislative Analyst's Office reported not long ago.


Workers Comp 5.08

Lawyer Says Perkins Coie Makes the Staff Bear Its Costs International law firm Perkins Coie docks paychecks for costs that employers are required to bear, such as workers' compensation and "accounting fees," a federal class claims.


State News 5.08

Molly Munger says she and Jerry Brown could work together on tax measures  The high-pressure game of signature gathering outside stores has turned into a mad dash to election offices across California as tax proponents submit their petitions for the November ballot.

Walters: California needs huge investment to create jobs  California is struggling to emerge from the worst recession since the Great Depression and has more than 2 million unemployed workers, plus countless others who have given up seeking work out of frustration and/or have fled to other states.


Workers Comp 5.07

Average California Workers' Comp Indemnity Hits $66,922 in 2011 Among other data, the California Workers' Compensation Institute estimates that workers' comp insurers expect to pay out $8.4 billion in claims for accident year 2011, which is an eight-year high. The average cost of a California workers compensation indemnity claim edged up slightly to reach a record high of $66,922 for 2011, a California Workers' Compensation Institute bulletin states.

My Journey to Sacramento for Justice in the Warehouse Industry My name is Santos Castaneda and I am a warehouse worker in Chino, CA. I unload containers full of shoes shipped from China, and load them into trailers that carry them to your local Walmart store. I have worked here for three years at minimum wage through a staffing agency in hot, dangerous conditions.

California a right-to-work state? Stop effort now There is a sneaky initiative on the November ballot that would put California on its way to higher poverty and lower wages. Dubbed the "Stop Special Interest Money Now Act," this initiative could increase the number of uninsured workers, double the wage gap, and cut your annual income by almost $6,000.


State News 5.07

Walters: Upcoming tax battle could be a nasty feud  Let's get ready to rumble. In this corner is California Gov. Jerry Brown. In that corner is Molly Munger, a very wealthy civil rights attorney.

For chronically unemployed, more bad news in California  With her anti-poverty budget stretched beyond its limits, Brenda Callahan-Johnson is braced for next Saturday: the day California's chronically unemployed will be cut off from the nation's jobless benefits.


Workers Comp 5.04

Confirmation Of California DIR Director & DWC Admin Director Approved By Senate Rules Committee The California Senate Rules Committee recently voted unanimously to confirm the appointment of Christine Baker as the Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). Also receiving unanimous approval for confirmation was Rosa Moran as the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC).

Should athletes get workers’ comp for road game injuries? Maryland’s high court is considering whether professional football players who play for teams in the state can claim workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained at out-of-state games.

Unions falter in fighting benefit cuts  Pushed to the margins of the U.S. economy, labor unions like the one representing Northern California's grocery workers are engaged in an epic struggle to preserve their members' wages and benefits. For the most part, they're losing.


State News 5.04

Jerry Brown says tax signatures in hand  Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that he has collected enough signatures to qualify his tax initiative for the November ballot. "We should have them all," the Democratic governor told reporters after speaking to a business group in San Jose.

Walters: Annual budget game beginning now in California  Darrell Steinberg is a baseball fanatic, but when he said this week that "the season is beginning," he wasn't talking about sports, or at least not games played on grass.


Workers Comp 5.03

Confirmation of DIR Director & DWC Administrative Director Approved by Senate Rules Committee The Senate Rules Committee today voted unanimously to confirm the appointment of Christine Baker as the Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). Also receiving unanimous approval for confirmation was Rosa Moran as the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC).

SEIU drops initiatives as part of California hospital accord A labor union that pushed a pair of ballot measures to rein in excessive hospital billing and expand healthcare for the poor has dropped them -- in exchange for an agreement that, among other things, enlists the hospital industry in the union's organizing efforts.


State News 5.03

Brown's tax hike finishes signature gathering  Supporters of Governor Jerry Brown's tax increase initiative believe they've got the signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, less than seven weeks after hitting the streets.

Skelton: California's truly loopy tax loophole  Giving companies doing business in California a tax incentive not to hire or invest here is costing the state $1 billion a year. It's time to change the law.

Long-term unemployed to lose benefits  Some 93,000 Californians are expected to lose their unemployment benefits next week. The reason is the improving economy.


Workers Comp 5.02

Thousands march in Oakland in May Day protest  Thousands marched throughout Oakland Tuesday in a kaleidoscopic variety of protests ranging from skirmishes with police to dancing, chanting throngs of demonstrators peacefully waving signs calling for an end to economic inequality and a strengthening of worker rights.

Raley's Unionized Workers Consider Strike Raley's and its workers belonging to the United Food and Commercial Workers union have been negotiating for seven months.  That includes five contract extensions.  Now, Raleys says no more. The West Sacramento-based chain is preparing to present its "last, best and final offer."

CRMBC investigation leads to arrest of suspect on 5 Felony Counts of Fraud The California Restaurant Mutual Benefit Corporation (CRMBC) announced today that the Los Angeles County District Attorney has arrested Emmanuel de Paz on three felony counts of insurance fraud and two felony counts of attempted perjury in connection to an alleged work injury filed as an employee of the El Gallo Giro Corporation.

Dozens rally for workers' rights: Students, laborers stand together to pressure university To mark International Workers Day, students and UC Santa Cruz laborers rallied Tuesday from the heart of campus to the edge of downtown in demonstrations that drew far fewer participants than in recent years.

UCLA students advocate for stronger student-worker bond with May Day march Amid blue and yellow balloons and people wearing “I Heart UCLA” shirts, a group of students in the middle of Bruin Plaza stood out.


State News 5.02

California tax revenue $3 billion less than target, report says  The legislative analyst’s office has a new number that is adding to California’s financial headache: $3 billion. That’s the total amount that tax revenue has lagged behind goals set by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration in the current fiscal year.

Workers Comp 5.01

PMSI: Narcotics use among injured workers drops in 2011  The use of narcotics among workers' comp claimants with an injury that was one year old or less has decreased, according to a new report. PMSI says that was a contributing factor to the overall 1.7 percent decrease in the use of narcotic analgesics among its client companies, as measured by morphine equivalents per injured worker per day.

Bay Area May Day Has Begun; Live Twitter Coverage May Day is here, and a day of protests and actions around the Bay Area are planned. The morning ferry commute for North Bay denizens headed to San Francisco has already been cancelled due to a labor action by workers in a dispute over health care, and last night in the Mission car windows were broken and the police station on Valencia Street was vandalized by a group of protesters.

Killer Jobs: Policing America’s Dangerous Workplaces According to US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, more people die in the American workplace in a single year than have been lost in nine years of war in Iraq. “Each day in America, twelve people go to work and never go home,” she told the audience at the Action Summit for Worker Safety and Health held at East Los Angeles Community College on April 26, one of many events leading up to Workers Memorial Day, April 28, an annual date of remembrance for those killed, injured, or sickened on the job.

Will May Day Protests Rejuvenate the Occupy Movement?  From April 9-15, thousands of Occupy activists got direct action training in preparation for the “99% Spring.” The goal is recapturing Occupy’s momentum, with a greater focus on targeting specific corporate wrongdoing.

California rating bureau seeks midyear premium increase  An increase in the volume of liens, higher frequency, and the sluggish pace of economic recovery are some of the reasons the California Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau cited for its requested 4.1 percent July rate hike.

Golden Gate ferry workers strike, protesters gather for May Day actions May Day actions in the Bay Area began with a strike by ferry workers early Tuesday in the North Bay, stranding commuters who usually take a boat to work.


State News 5.01

Walters: Former lawmaker Dan Boatwright was colorful in all ways  Many politicians are described as "colorful," but it was literally true about Dan Boatwright.


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