September 2012 News

Workers Comp 9.28

Domestic workers in California ramp up their case for labor protection rights  Across California domestic workers and their supporters are ramping up pressure on Governor Brown to sign Assembly Bill 889 by Sunday.

Idea of the Day: California Proves that Paid Family Leave Is Good Policy A decade ago, on September 23, 2002, then-California Gov. Gray Davis (D) signed into law Senate Bill 1661, which, with the stroke of a pen, made California the first state in the nation to provide paid family leave insurance to nearly every worker in the state. This remarkable achievement gave an estimated 13 million workers an insurance program that provides income when they need it to care for their family.

William R. Snaer: End union control of California politics Some of the arguments against Proposition 32 are particularly egregious examples of the misleading rhetoric that tends to surround California ballot propositions.

Facebook, Twitter, email passwords made private under California law California, home to many of the world's social media companies, now has the nation's strictest privacy laws preventing your boss or college from surfing through the personal information you post on sites like Facebook.

State News 9.28

California voters support path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, say no to driver's licenses  California voters oppose granting driver's licenses and in-state tuition breaks to illegal immigrants, though most voters support creating a path to citizenship, according to a Field Poll released today.

Dan Walters Daily: Job losses fuel debate on business climate Dan says politicians are taking notice as large employers leave California.

Activists launch grassroots campaign for Prop. 30  A coalition of community groups is launching a grassroots effort to support Proposition 30 in hopes that voter turnout among young and minority voters will be a decisive factor in the November election.

Jerry Brown signs laws to provide free digital college textbooks  Gov. Jerry Brown today signed legislation to give students access to free online textbooks for common undergraduate courses at California's public colleges and universities.

New poll finds voters split over pension changes  Many California voters say the changes in the state pension system that Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed into law are enough, for now, to curb public employee retirement benefits, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

Workers Comp 9.27

Do I Look Stupid To You? Do I?  Tom Rowe, president and chief executive officer of the State Compensation Insurance Fund, said yesterday that by recommending no change in advisory pure premium rates for 2013 the Governing Committee of the California Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) can "seize on the spirit and substance of this reform" [SB 863] and "profoundly improve" the California workers' comp system.

Calif. workers comp reforms prompts change to 2013 rate filing California’s Workers Compensation Information Rating Bureau plans to amend its 2013 rate filing to recommend no rate increase for next year in light of recent workers comp reforms passed in the state.

The State Worker: State worker union has its own labor issues A messy fight between California's largest state employee union, SEIU Local 1000, and another union that has represented 160 of its staff has spilled into public view.

Strikes at Walmart Warehouses Expose Threats in Supply Chain  A strike at Walmart? Two of them. In a time when few union members dare strike, three dozen Southern California workers who move goods for Walmart were desperate enough to walk off their jobs September 12 even without union protection.

State News 9.27

110,000 register to vote online in first week  The state’s online voter registration system went live last Wednesday as a result of SB 397 by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, which was signed into law last October by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Gov. Jerry Brown stumps for Prop. 30, arguing it's best hope for schools  Admitting that his proposed tax hike will face a tough battle at the polls, Gov. Jerry Brown made a personal pitch Wednesday for Proposition 30 as the best hope for salvaging California's cash-strapped education system.

Union leader defends Villaraigosa in wake of pension vote  One day after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa won a key vote to roll back pensions for newly hired city employees, the president of one of the state's larger private sector unions defended the mayor, saying he is "not the enemy" of workers.

Workers Comp 9.26

SB 863 Ups Ante for Specialists' Needs  There is one immutable fact about California's reform bill also known as SB 863 - a lot of people are going to need a whole lot of education, and not just about how the provisions of SB 863 affect their particular niche in the industry, but a whole new cadre of workers' compensation professionals will require training.

Proposed Domestic Workers Bill of Rights elicits varied opinions As Gov. Jerry Brown decides whether he will sign the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (AB 889), reactions to the bill and the prospect of monitoring and enforcing its stipulations —which include overtime pay, mandatory rest and meal breaks, and fair sleeping conditions for workers—remain mixed.

Comcast will slash about 1,000 jobs in Northern California, including 600 in the Bay Area  Comcast will eliminate about 1,000 jobs in Northern California, including more than 300 in the East Bay and more than 300 in the South Bay, as it closes call centers in Livermore, Morgan Hill and Sacramento. The telecommunications giant blamed the cuts on California's high costs.

State News 9.26

Gov. Brown signs bill to speed payouts by corporate fraud fund  Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday designed to cut red tape that has delayed numerous payouts of money set aside in a multimillion-dollar state fund for victims of corporate fraud.

Walters: Dan Lungren fights for his political life  Two decades ago, Dan Lungren was widely considered to be an ascending political star with White House-level potential.

Gov. Jerry Brown approves two-year moratorium on state park closures  Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Tuesday that puts a two-year moratorium on closing state parks in California and allocates $30 million in recently discovered surplus funds to help them continue operation.

Dan Walters Daily: Cars without drivers Dan discusses driverless cars and the future of California transportation.

Workers Comp 9.25

One Example of How SB 863 Promotes Litigation  One of the big issues in the California reform bill SB 863 is the Independent Medical Review process and whether or not these provisions pass muster under the California Constitution, but there are other, more practical issues involved.

Workerscompzone is back and ready to tend to things comp after a swing thru the old Habsburg Empire...... SB 863 has now been signed by Governor Brown. The bill can be found here: ... ptered.pdf Those of you who enjoy parlor games might want to look at Capitol Weekly's

Battle lines being drawn over California reform efforts  A plan to reform the workers' comp system will either protect workers and employers or cause large groups of injured workers to lose compensation, depending on who is talking. California regulators and attorneys for injured workers are squarely on opposite sides of the plan.

The rise of workers' comp costs Develop a cost-reduction plan to help keep rising workers’ compensation costs at bay. Workers’ compensation (WC) claims — and the costs associated with them — will inevitably rise.

Union says Safeway labor deal near in Northern California  The grocery workers union says it is close to signing a new contract with Safeway Inc., bringing Northern California's turbulent supermarket industry another step closer to labor peace.

State News 9.25

Field Poll shows voters closely divided on death penalty  After years of steadfast support for the death penalty, California voters are now divided over whether to repeal capital punishment through a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot, a new poll has found.

Walters: Jerry Brown, Molly Munger gearing up for battle  Gov. Jerry Brown and civil rights attorney Molly Munger appear to be heading toward a direct clash over rival tax increase measures that could doom both.

Unions contribute $3.48 million to anti-Proposition 32 campaign  The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees contributed $1.5 million to defeat Proposition 32, part of $3.48 million given by labor unions and politicians within the last week. The campaign supporting the campaign finance-reform initiative raised about one-tenth over the same period.

Reality Check: National political ads jab ethics, health care  Four closely watched congressional races are in the Sacramento region this fall, and all have attracted a national blitz of TV ads funded by outside political action committees - ads where a dash of truth is often stretched and twisted into a political weapon.

Workers Comp 9.24

Best Interests At Heart - the Fluid Nature of 863  The proponents of SB 863, the massive California reform effort, had projected that benefits to injured workers would increase by $700 million and generate net savings of $770 million in 2013 and $330 million annually thereafter.

Conference draws 850 to Dana Point The California Workers Compensation & Risk Conference, held Sept. 19-21 in Dana Point, Calif., drew more than 850 attendees from California and around the country. The event was organized by Risk Management Education Associates L.L.C. of Charlotte, N.C.

Dan Walters Daily: Time for 'due diligence' on California ballot VIDEO: Dan says this is the year for voters to do their homework on California's long menu of ballot measures.

Santa Ana Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at California Law Associates Say Highest Rate of Death on the Job Due to Auto Accidents Data reported in the Los Angeles Times(Aug. 23, 2012) reveals that sales reps and truck drivers have the deadliest jobs. Santa Ana workers’ compensation lawyers say accidents on the road involving employees unfortunately are not unusual. The workplace injury attorneys in Orange County have seen first-hand the devastating impact of on-the-job accidents in California involving workers on the road.

Capitol enacts pro-business legislation Who says that the Capitol doesn't try to help business? The Legislature passed and Gov. Jerry Brown this week signed two significant bills that could improve California's business climate. Wednesday, he signed Senate Bill 1186, which is supposed to prevent predatory claims against small-business owners while encouraging compliance on disabled access. California accounts for about 40 percent of all lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but has only 12 percent of the country's disabled population.

California club goes from union to nonunion crew Seventeen union workers employed at the Calabasas Country Club and Golf Course have been replaced by a new, nonunion crew from ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance. Critics of the move worry that the change is the beginning of a new trend in the golfing industry to move away from organized labor in favor of independent subcontractors who work for less.

State News 9.24

'Petty pace' of politics tempers Gov. Jerry Brown's big ideas  Gov. Jerry Brown had been plowing through the hundreds of bills on his desk, many involving what he calls the "vast tracts of unknown" in state bureaucracy, when one caught his eye.

Walters: If their taxes go up, will the wealthy go elsewhere?  The centerpiece of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase measure, Proposition 30, is a $5 billion a year boost in income taxes on about 150,000 high-income individuals and families – the 1 percenters who already pay 40 percent of California's income taxes.

Pension reforms may jeopardize privatization plans  Behind the scenes, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's pension reform proposal released last week could put plans to privatize the Los Angeles Zoo and the Convention Center on hold.

This Time, California May Matter in November ... Really!  California may be an afterthought in this year’s presidential race because it’s safely in Barack Obama’s column (the Democratic presidential ticket leads the GOP ticket by 14 points in the latest PPIC poll.) But it’s smack in the heat of the uphill battle being waged by national Democrats to take back control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

If Proposition 32 Passes: A Not-So-Green Golden State How different would California look with Proposition 32's passage? To imagine, it's not necessary to focus on a Golden State without the legacy of its unions, but rather to think of a California in which only the rich and powerful have a say in Sacramento and in the polling booth.

Workers Comp 9.21

America's Deadliest Jobs If your work day sometimes seems to consist of nothing but boring meetings, coffee spills, and computer glitches, consider yourself lucky.

TEXT-Fitch says Calif. workers comp reform a slight net benefit for insurers California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed Senate Bill No. 863 (SB 863) that refashions the state's worker compensation insurance system. Fitch Ratings believes the changes will result in a slight net benefit for the insurance industry.

NIOSH: Paid sick leave equals fewer workers' comp injuries  "Workers with access to paid sick leave were 28 percent less likely overall to suffer nonfatal occupational injuries than workers without access to paid sick leave," reported the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. "Workers in high-risk occupations and industry sectors, such as construction, manufacturing, agriculture, and health care and social assistance, appeared to benefit most from paid sick leave."

Calif. Workers’ Comp Reform Law at ‘Halftime’ When Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a bill to reform California’s workers’ compensation system, it was far from the final step to revamp an unwieldy system for injured workers that seems to need fixing every seven or so years.… Baker said she has been working with the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association to work through their issues.

Workers’ comp rating bureau still unsure of new law’s impact on rates Experts within the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau are still evaluating the cost impact of the new workers’ comp reform law and what it will mean for insurer rates.

Latino groups urge California to protect domestic workers A Guatemalan woman's case is being presented by immigrants' rights defense organizations as an example of the need for the California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights to become law.

American Airlines gives layoff notices to nearly 1,100 California workers American Airlines said it planning to cancel 300 flights nationwide. American Airlines told nearly 1,100 California workers that they could be losing their jobs. The airline said today it had sent layoff notices to the workers as it continues to restructure its business in bankruptcy court.

State News 9.21

Taxpayers, ratepayers will fund California solar plants  A new breed of prospectors -- banks, insurers, utility companies -- are receiving billions in subsidies while taxpayer and ratepayers are paying most of the costs. Critics say it's a rip-off.

Campaign finance measure trails among likely California voters  A campaign finance measure on the November ballot is trailing among likely California voters, according to a new survey, although a sizable percentage remain undecided as dueling campaigns head into their final weeks.

Dan Walters Daily: California's budget problems continue Dan says the automatic budget cuts that would be triggered if Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure fails on Nov. 6 won't cover the California budget deficit.

Poll: California voters cool to idea of restricting unions Another attempt by conservatives and corporate interests to limit labor unions' ability to collect dues for political purposes is being viewed skeptically by California voters, according to a poll released Friday. The Field Poll found that just 38 percent of likely voters support Proposition 32 on the Nov. 6 ballot while 44 percent intend to vote against it. A significant portion, 18 percent, remains undecided.


Workers Comp 9.20

Reform = Questions, Anticipation, Speculation  The California Workers' Compensation and Risk Conference, which started yesterday, could not have been more fortuitously scheduled with the opening presentation occurring just 19 days after the Legislature shut its doors for the season and the Governor's signing of Senate Bill 863 just the day before.

Calif. Workers’ Comp Reform Dominates Conference Senate Bill 863, or the more popular usage “SB 863,” was the phrase at the beginning, end or middle of many-a-conversation during the California Workers’ Compensation & Risk Conference on Wednesday.… While it received bipartisan support thanks to a big push by Brown, the bill was and still is controversial. Vehemently against the law is the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association, which is seeking more benefits for injured workers. Rallying around the bill following a personal plea from Brown was legislators from both sides of the aisle, labor and the business community. Several insurance associations also offered support for the bill.

Defendants Say Workers’ Compensation Act Bars Benzene Claims Two defendants in a benzene action have filed a second motion to dismiss a benzene case, contending that even with the plaintiffs’ recent filing of an amended complaint, the claims still can’t overcome the exclusive remedy provision of the California Workers’ Compensation Act.

Workers' comp reform a winner for employers and employees When it comes to the subject of reforming California’s critical workers’ compensation system, finding common ground is a challenge. Employers struggle with the ever-increasing costs associated with a system that covers almost all of California’s 14.4 million employees. Injured workers understandably want to get the medical care and support they need to get back to work as soon as possible.

State News 9.20

More voters undecided on taxes, poll says  The number of California voters who are undecided on how to vote on two competing tax measures has increased with fewer than seven weeks left before the November election, and Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 is barely hanging on to a majority, according to a new poll.

CalBuzz: Polls: Jerry, Molly, Anti-Union Props on the Bubble Gov. Jerry Brown’s main worry about winning approval of his ballot measure to raise taxes to help fund schools and reduce the state’s deficit is “funded opposition.” If there’s no serious “anti-“ effort, he and his small clutch of advisers believe their Proposition 30 has a fighting chance.

Workers Comp 9.19

Brad Chalk on Insight today.  Workers Compensation Reform Governor Jerry Brown signed a widely supported bill Tuesday that many believe will change California's workers' compensation law to better protect small business owners and injured workers.  The changes are also expected to save California businesses $1 billion next year.  But opponents of the workers' compensation reform say the Governor and lawmakers' characterization of the changes as good-for-all-sides is wrong and business is being favored over injured workers.  We'll speak with Christine Baker, Director of California's Department of Industrial Relations, and Brad Chalk, Legislative Chair for California Applicants' Attorneys Association.

Brown Signs Workers' Compensation System Reform Bill Into Law On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law legislation (SB 863) that overhauls the state's workers' compensation system, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports (Walters, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 9/18).…However, Brad Chalk -- president of the California Applicants' Attorneys Association -- said that the law "restricts the ability of an injured worker to access necessary medical treatment and to receive adequate compensation if a worker is permanently disabled and cannot return to work at the same salary."

Governor signs workers' comp bill in San Diego San Diego ironworker Johnny Swanson hurt a lot more than his wrist when he tore one of its ligaments on the job seven years ago. Trying to figure out the state’s complicated workers’ compensation system kept him out of work for a year, as he weaved his way between doctors and insurance companies to get the right approvals. The California Applicants’ Attorneys Association opposed the bill because it argues arbitration makes it harder for injured workers to prove the extent of their disabilities. David Dugan, a San Diego lawyer who represents injured workers, said many also need guidance just to get the maximum benefit, two-thirds of income.

Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown signs (another) workers' comp bill  VIDEO: Dan says Tuesday's workers' comp bill signing was a once-a-decade exercise at the Capitol.

Speaker John A. Pérez Joins Governor Jerry Brown for Workers’ Compensation Reform Bill Signing Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), joined Governor Jerry Brown today in San Diego, where the Governor signed into law SB 863, the bipartisan Workers’ Compensation Reform bill approved by the Legislature, that will create a more efficient workers’ compensation system and greatly benefit California companies and workers injured on the job.

Brown signs workers comp law Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bipartisan bill Tuesday intended to reduce workers compensation costs for California businesses while increasing benefits to workers injured on the job.

CALPASC Views Workers' Comp Reform As "Dodging A Bullet" In Battle Against The Underground Economy The Governor's signature on Senate Bill 863 (SB 863) caps off an enormous effort by employers and labor groups, including the California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC), who watched nervously as the bill moved through the Legislature. During the last day of the legislative session, SB 863, co-authored by Senator Kevin de Leon and Assemblymember Jose Solorio, moved through the Assembly Insurance Committee, passed out of the Assembly, moved to the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee and passed out of the Senate just two hours before the deadline, making its way to the Governor's desk

Illinois & Iowa Interesting, but No Match for CA  “What you have to realize is that just nine years ago, in 2003, there were more than 65,000 new claims…What you’re seeing is workers’ compensation attorneys business drying up.” That's what Chicago, IL, defense lawyer Gene Keefe told WorkCompCentral yesterday after the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) released its recommendations for voluntary market rate changes in the state.

Filipino hospital workers win nearly million-dollar settlement in California English-only case Dozens of Filipino hospital workers in California will share a nearly $1 million settlement in a lawsuit claiming they were targeted by a rule requiring English only at work, federal officials said Monday.

State News 9.19

AM Alert: Obama's lead grows in California Californians seem to like President Barack Obama more as the election draws nearer. A Field Poll released today shows Californians favor the president over Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 24 points - compared to an 18 point lead Obama enjoyed in the state in July. Obama is ahead in every region of California, poll results show, except one: the Central Valley. Here in California's heartland, the candidates are tied at 48 percent. Read the Bee's story on the poll here. Find Capitol Alert's exclusive statistical tabulations here.

Workers Comp 9.18

California Gov. Jerry Brown to sign workers' compensation fixes ..."In particular, the legislation restricts the ability of an injured worker to access necessary medical treatment and to receive adequate compensation if a worker is permanently disabled and cannot return to work at the same salary," Brad Chalk, president of the 700-member California Applicants' Attorneys Association, wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

Brown signs overhaul of California workers' compensation Gov. Jerry Brown signed an overhaul of California's workers' compensation system Tuesday in San Diego, hailing it as a win-win for employers and employees alike. The legislation, Senate Bill 863, was hammered out in months of private negotiations between employer and labor union representatives.

California rating agency seeks 12.6 percent increase in pure premium rates  "Significant deterioration in projected losses and loss adjustment expenses" combined with "less optimistic economic forecasts" account for the proposed 12.6 percent increase in advisory rates. The WCIRB submitted the filing to the California Department of Insurance.

Warehouse Workers Strike In Illinois On Heels Of California Walkout  A strike among warehouse workers in Southern California has spread to northeastern Illinois, where a group of workers at a distribution center for Walmart goods walked off the job over the weekend.

State News 9.18

California calls prison release plan unsafe  Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration says it is a terrible idea that jeopardizes public safety, but if federal judges order it, California could in six months craft a plan to ease prison crowding by releasing inmates early.

Capitol Weekly's Top 100 List  Nothing is more subjective than a list that purports to be objective, but we make no apologies. This is our description of people who have a significant impact on state policy, politics and governance. It excludes elected officials, which is why someone like Matt Rexroad, a Yolo County supervisor, isn’t on the list. today we offer 51 through 100 of the Top 100 List. Next Monday, we’ll provide 1-50. The envelope please


Workers Comp 9.17

New California workers’ compensation law cuts mental health coverage, sparks concern among medical and legal communities Earlier this month, lawmakers passed a new California workers’ compensation law that stands to enact a series of changes to the current system in an effort to cut insurance costs. According to CBS News, measure SB863 was approved in the California Senate by a 68-4 vote, and in the State Assembly by a similarly lopsided margin.

Warehouse Workers Walk 50 Miles to Protest Walmart  Warehouse workers in Southern California tasked with loading goods for delivery to the big box retailer Walmart have walked off their non-union jobs in protest of what they call poor working conditions.

Workers for Walmart Subcontractor Forced to Strike Over Warehouse Conditions After years of lousy working conditions - including 100-degree-plus interior temperatures - and management refusal to even meet with them on the problems, much less listen, workers at a Walmart-hired warehouse subcontractor in Mira Loma, Calif., were forced to strike starting September 13.

Young filmmakers' documentary reveals life of undocumented workers: 'In the shadows' A beautifully produced and compelling short documentary provides a glimpse into everyday lives of undocumented workers in the United States. In an age where readers and viewers are often bombarded with opinion, this quiet film gives voice to those who live in the shadows but reserves judgment for the viewer.

State News 9.17

Millions in union political money at stake in Proposition 32 fight  Labor unions argue that a campaign-finance measure on California's November ballot would unfairly hobble their political pull, but behind that lies a tacit admission: If given an easy choice, many of their members would keep the dues money that helps power union clout.

Gov. Brown: Tax bid will be final try  Brown says his ballot bid to raise the state sales tax for everyone and wealthy people's income taxes will be the last time he pitches such a plan to the voters.

Walters: Bankruptcy ruling could alter California pension law  The public pension reform legislation that the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown adopted very carefully avoided any changes of current pensioners' benefits and those of future recipients now on state and local payrolls.



Workers Comp 9.14

Workerscompzone is on the road. It's a big world out there and occasionally its good to get away from the workers' comp universe. This post is from Budapest, on the Danube.

Pending law will help injured workers and their employers, many say California’s newly reformed workers’ compensation system will provide permanently injured workers higher benefits and save employers money by more tightly controlling costs, experts say.

Descendent of farm workers wants to “Eat Less Water”  Nearly every afternoon this summer, Florencia Ramirez drove past the strawberries and lima beans growing in the Oxnard plain, and each time she grew angry about what she saw.

California growers complain of farm worker shortage Jeff Horwich: All summer farmers faced a shortage of water. Now some are dealing with a shortage of labor to bring in the harvest. We sent Marketplace's Eve Troeh to a California mushroom farm to glean some more insights.

State News 9.14

Immigrant-rights groups divided over bills on Gov. Brown's desk  A split emerged in the immigrant rights community Thursday over two bills on the governor’s desk.

California Senate leader sets in motion reform of state environmental laws  A month after quashing a rushed attempt to overhaul the state’s environmental laws, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said Thursday he is convening meetings with all the parties involved in the issue in the months before the Legislature reconvenes in December.

Pelosi to Gov. Brown: Sign immigration bill  A state bill that could lead to fewer deportations from California won an influential endorsement Thursday when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and most of California's Democratic congressional delegation sent a letter urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign it.

Workers Comp 9.13

Pakistan Factory Fires Reminiscent of NY, 1911  Yesterday I wrote about what I thought was despicable behavior by a Tennessee employer. Then later that morning I read about a factory disaster in Pakistan that put the Tennessee case into perspective, and was eerily similar to a disaster over 100 years ago in New York.

Viewpoints: Unions are key to a thriving middle class The future of labor unions is inextricably linked to the future of the middle class, as The Bee noted in its Sept. 3 editorial "To rebound, labor needs to adapt to a new era."

The Road to Hell: Reforming the Reform of Workers Compensation Reformers Let's see, we establish a system designed to protect the interests of two groups with diametrically opposed interests, give them a level playing field, sprinkle in insurance carriers and thousands of support vendors providing a plethora of services, and tell them to manage all to the best of their ability. What could be so difficult about that?

California Workers to Shoulder More Pension Costs  California will begin overhauling pensions for government workers in January, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law Wednesday to boost current employees' contributions and cut benefits for future workers.

Warehouse Workers Strike In California, Claiming Unsafe Conditions  A group of warehouse workers in Southern California has gone on strike, vowing not to return to work until their employer addresses what they describe as unsafe working conditions in the warehouse.

The Roundup: Labor's fights with Democrats; CalPERS axes investment firm; reactions to CA pension reform 

State News 9.13

California governor pleads with voters to pass tax-hike measure  Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday passionately defended his tax-hike ballot measure, California's high-speed rail project, new public pension reforms and his plan to restore the Sacramento Delta.

What Really Happens if Both Prop 30 and 38 Pass in November?  There's an argument that runs like this: If people vote for only one of the two income tax measures in November, then both are more likely to fail, and if both fail, then woe be it to students and teachers across the state. It's better, then, to vote Yes on both.

Workers Comp 9.12

U.S. Workforce Illness Costs $576B Annually From Sick Days To Workers Compensation From absenteeism due to illness to the cost of disability and workers’ compensation, poor health costs the U.S. economy more than a half a trillion dollars a year, according to a new study by a nonprofit research organization.

Central California winery worker dies after ammonia exposure Officials say a worker at a Central California winery has died after being exposed to ammonia. Sanger police spokeswoman Cpl. Jaimy Gaines says the man was one of six workers exposed early Tuesday morning at a winery operated by Gibson Wine Co.

If Animals Have Heat Safety Protections, Why Shouldn't Farm Workers? If a motorist killed a person while driving drunk, would a police officer stop him and say, "You're free to go, but next time you are going to jail?" As ludicrous as it sounds, that's what is happening in the fields when a farm worker's life is lost due to an employer's refusal to comply with the current state's heat laws.

Farm Labor Shortages Plague Pajaro Valley Growers  The national problem in manifesting in the local agriculture industry. A new drought impacting Pajaro Valley fields has nothing to do with weather patterns. Farm labor shortages this summer have forced those working in agriculture—a $565 million industry in Santa Cruz County—to clock overtime shifts and seven-day-a-week schedules and, in the most-dire situations, abandon crops and plow-in fields.

Cornerstone's Embassy Suites Irvine Workers on Strike, Says UNITE HERE Hotel workers walked off the job Wednesday to protect their rights at the Embassy Suites hotel in Irvine, California, owned by Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers. Workers are striking to protest being disciplined repeatedly and threatened with termination for wearing union buttons, a right protected under federal labor law.

Union's board ratifies Save Mart contract Save Mart Supermarkets' labor union has given final ratification to a new cost-saving contract with the Modesto grocery chain. Local 5 of the United Food and Commercial Workers

State News 9.12

Fact-checking leads to reversals in two California congressional races  The $4,000 chair at the center of one of Rep. John Garamendi's latest attacks on his Republican rival wasn't just empty, it was nonexistent.

Public workers try to cope with having to pay more of their pension costs  Governor Jerry Brown will sign a bill Wednesday that cuts benefits for most public workers in California and could save state and local governments up to $80 billion over the next 30 years.

Governor rakes in Prop 30 cash  Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign war chest for his tax increase initiative grew by some 25 percent on Tuesday, with new donations totaling more than $2.8 million and his largest single day haul to date.

Lopez: The campaign dance of hollow promises  California economists say the presidential candidates have provided few specifics about how to fix the nation's economy. And that's depressing and disturbing.

Workers Comp 9.11

California Applicants’ Attorneys Association Has New Leadership Team The California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA), whose members represent Californians injured on the job, announced that it has installed a new team of officers for the coming year. Incoming President Larry Stern of Mallery & Stern said in a press statement that his new priorities would include working with the legislation known as SB 863.

New York May Want Strategy From CA's Playbook  While the Left Coast may be going through a bit of drama and turmoil in the wake of an historic reformation of the California workers' compensation system, at least the people of The Golden State can claim that they DO SOMETHING about their workers' compensation system to get things under control.

The Buzz: California lawmakers need 64 pages to change a few words The workers' compensation overhaul passed by lawmakers will result in lower overall costs, even with its increase in benefit payments, the Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau says. However, whether that will result in lower insurance premiums for employers is still uncertain, the report implied, due to "a continued deterioration in insurer loss experience" from previous claims.

California Civil Attorneys: New Labor Law Protects Big Worker Group LibertyBell Law Group's California civil attorneys know the new labor law, Domestic Worker Bill of Rights (AB889), seeks to protect domestic workers, but enforcing it is challenging. The new labor law provides workers with overtime pay, meal and rest periods, and uninterrupted sleep periods and compensation for interruptions.

California: Frequency for private self-insureds drops a hair  Rates of medical-only claims declined slightly while lost-time claim frequency edged up among California's private self-insured employers last year. The result was a drop in overall claim frequency of just over 2 percent.

State News 9.11

California Gov. Jerry Brown tells critics 'We've made a helluva lot of progress'  California isn't broken, Gov. Jerry Brown declared Monday, insisting that he's taken significant steps to reduce decades of dysfunction from the Capitol -- even when they didn't square with his mission to convince voters to raise taxes in November.

Californians Face Rival Ballot Initiatives That Would Raise Taxes and Aid Schools  First came a competing save-our-schools ballot initiative, backed by a wealthy lawyer who proved more persistent than Gov. Jerry Brown had hoped. Then came a summer of minor financial embarrassments that handed Mr. Brown’s opponents a narrative to use against him.

Survey: California consumer confidence best in 5 years  The nation's economy might be slowing down, but consumer confidence in California is the highest it's been in five years.

Workers Comp 9.10

Gov. Brown used political muscle to revive workers' comp bill In less than 24 hours, Gov. Jerry Brown pushed through a nearly dead workers' comp bill, showing what decades of political experience can deliver on deadline.

Insurer Groups Skeptical of Cost Savings in California’s New Workers’ Comp Bill  Legislation imposing sweeping reforms on California’s Workers’ Compensation system was passed by the state legislature Aug. 31 and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

BILL WOULD GIVE OT PAY, BREAKS TO DOMESTIC WORKERS  Among the Legislature-approved measures awaiting a decision by Gov. Jerry Brown is a bill that would give overtime pay, mandatory rest hours and mealtime breaks for housekeepers, nannies and caregivers.

Bill protects religious garb, grooming in the workplace  Under AB 1964 signed by Gov. Brown, California employers face new restrictions against shunting Sikh and Muslim workers out of public view for wearing turbans, beards and hijabs.

State News 9.10

Gov. Jerry Brown to GOP: 'Get out of the way'  Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday took to the national airwaves to weigh in on the presidential election, arguing that President Obama had laid a foundation for economic recovery and that the country would be better off if Republicans would “get out of the way.”

Jerry Brown defends tax measure, likens Mitt Romney to Thomas Dewey  Gov. Jerry Brown said this morning that California's high tax rates have not dragged down the economy, defending his Nov. 6 ballot initiative to raise taxes in a television interview.

California ranked 4th worst in business legal climate  California ranks 47th in the nation in its courts' "fairness and reasonableness" regarding business lawsuits, according to a poll conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform.

Pension reform: third of state workers pay more  Without the usual bargaining with unions, a new pension reform raises the amount roughly a third of state workers pay toward their pensions, an increase of 1 to 3 percent of pay over the next two years.


Workers Comp 9.07

Lower costs seen in California workers' compensation overhaul  The workers' compensation overhaul passed by the California Legislature last week and now awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown's signature will result in lower overall costs, even with its increase in benefit payments, the Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau said Thursday.

Reform, Resignation, Revelation  The drama in the California workers' compensation reform novella heated up yesterday when the news that Division of Workers' Compensation Administrative Director, Rosa Moran, was widely and rapidly circulated.

WCIRB May Reduce Rate Increase to 11.6% Committees for the Workers’ Compensation Rating Bureau looking at data based on the savings promised by a bill to reform the state’s workers comp system may be recommending an adjustment to WCIRB’s upcoming pure premium filing.

Legislative loophole creates underground economy in home care industry The home care industry in California operates under three distinct models. The first is when a client or family hires a worker directly and is the employer of record, responsible for deducting and paying taxes, including the employer contributions toward employee entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare.


State News 9.07

Gov. Jerry Brown sees 'fear in the eyes of Republicans' on taxes  Gov. Jerry Brown dismissed notions today that he can go back to GOP lawmakers for higher taxes if his November initiative fails, saying "there is fear in the eyes of Republicans when the tax word is uttered in their presence."

Teachers union gives another $6.9 million to Prop. 32 fight  California's largest teachers union is literally doubling down to fight Proposition 32, the November ballot measure that promises to eliminate special-interest money in politics.

California business lobbyists block all but a few 'job killer' bills Lobbyists for the California Chamber of Commerce and other business groups blocked or neutralized more than 80 percent of the bills on the chamber's "job killer" list in the just-concluded 2012 legislative session, and would score even higher if Gov. Jerry Brown rejects any of the four measures that reached his desk.

State board files complaint against Santa Clara County's largest employee union  The case stems from an unfair practice charge that Jeffrey Lum filed against the Service Employees International Union Local 521 on June 29 for forcing him to pay full union dues.


Workers Comp 9.06

Moran Out as Calif. Workers’ Comp Admin Director Rosa Moran, one of the members of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Department of Industrial Relations team that helped to hammer out a last-minute deal to reform California’s workers’ compensation system, has stepped down.

State workers' comp chief resigns after a year The head of the California Division of Workers’ Compensation has resigned after a little more than a year on the job.

Bad Faith, Cost Shifting, Reform - Dissatisfaction or Lack of Relevancy?  Is it more than coincidence that yet another state's appellate court has rejected a worker's civil complaint for bad faith and fraud on the grounds that workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy?

Democrats slash California workers’ compensation The California Legislature on Friday enacted a massive overhaul of the state’s no-fault workers’ compensation system. While purporting to increase payment schedules for injured workers with permanent disabilities that were cut by 60 percent in 2004, the legislation cuts compensation for other types of injuries and will otherwise drastically reduce treatment for injured workers.

Calif. Bill Would Take DCs Another Step Down in Worker's Comp Chiropractic's role in state worker's compensation systems appears to be increasingly tenuous, as evidenced by proposed legislation in several states including California, where Senate Bill 863 is currently under deliberation.

California Brokers, Agents React to State Fund New Deal Reaction to a decision by State Compensation Insurance Fund to restructure its broker distribution model has ranged from guardedly optimistic to visceral the day following the announcment.

Basic Rights for Calif.’s Domestic Workers A Signature Away Nannies, housekeepers, caregivers and other domestic workers in California will enjoy better working conditions, meals and rest breaks and overtime pay, thanks to a landmark bill that awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

State News 9.06

Steinberg eyes Democratic supermajority, praises end of session  After failing to win votes for tax hikes this legislative session, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said he's focused on helping Democrats win a supermajority of his house this fall.

Skelton: Lawmaker fulfills pledge to late wife with legislative victory  Colleagues dismissed him as "one-bill Gil." Fellow Democrats labeled him politically toxic. But the tenacious Los Angeles legislator ultimately triumphed, keeping a promise to his dying wife.

Chris Christie to Jerry Brown: Buzz off  Surprising exactly no one, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie isn’t interested in the fitness challenge suggested by California Gov. Jerry Brown last week.


Workers Comp 9.05

California Workers' Comp Bill Passes Legislature; Insurer Groups Cautious Legislation imposing sweeping reforms on the California workers’ compensation system was passed by the state legislature late Friday and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for signature. The bill is S.B. 863.

Herdt: A productive year for state legislators  There will be many who will suggest that either this keyboard or its operator is defective, but the following sentence is intentional: The California Legislature had a productive year.

Lawmakers Pass Workers’ Compensation Changes Lawmakers approved a series of changes to California’s workers’ compensation system late Friday, sending Gov. Jerry Brown a 170-page bill that arose in the final days of the legislative session.

DIR expresses support for workers’ comp reform plan The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has announced support for a comprehensive plan to reform the state’s workers’ compensation system. The changes aim to protect employees while preventing sharp increases in the cost of doing business in the state. Cal/OSHA is a DIR agency.

Fields of Fire: Bill Provides Water, Shade to Farm Workers  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2012 has been the hottest year on record — ever. Millions of Americans suffered through the sweltering heat this summer, many in triple-digit temperatures in the Northeast and Southwest, and in California’s Central Valley.

Up-date: Legislature sends heat-illness bills to the governor; overtime bill fails by Christine Souza  In the final hours of its 2011-12 session, the state Legislature approved two bills opposed by agricultural groups that would allow private enforcement or impose stricter penalties related to the state heat illness prevention standard.

Intended Consequences and Plagiarizing Regulations  I'm off to Austin, Texas this morning to give a presentation at the annual Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) Workers' Compensation Conference. My presentation, ''A National Perspective on Workers' Compensation: How Texas Compares,'' ironically follows a presentation by well known Texas work comp consultant Julie Shank, 'Unintended Consequences in Workers' Compensation.'


State News 9.05

As Gov. Jerry Brown considers bills, campaign cash pours in  As Gov. Jerry Brown considers the slew of bills that lawmakers sent him in the final weeks of the legislative session, he will inevitably be making winners and losers out of the donors that have given millions of dollars to his tax initiative.

What the Pension "Reformers" Don't Tell You About Ed Mendel's widely-respected takes a look at the new pension legislation today, noting that the new law will allow cities to bypass bargaining and "gives many cities new cost-cutting power that some have been unable to win from public employee unions at the bargaining table."

Dan Walters Daily: Bill infighting far from done at the CA Capitol Dan says the mountain of bills on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk provides for some interesting dynamics as the Nov. 6 election approaches. (Think Proposition 30.)


Workers Comp 9.04

Jim Butler was on KGO-AM on Sunday, Sept. 2nd with Christine Craft

With 863 Comes New Administrative Burdens, Expense  I woke up Saturday morning with several text messages and voice mail on my cell phone - everyone's excited about the passage of SB 863. Maybe "excited" is the wrong word - there was some concern in some of the messages, there was some hope in some of the messages; clearly, though, SB 863 is a game changer for many in the industry, and of course injured workers and employers.

Workers' comp reform bill headed to governor  In the final hours of the legislative session that ended Friday, lawmakers passed a bill revamping the California workers’ compensation system.

Dan Walters: The legislative process does count A 170-page overhaul of California's multi- billion-dollar workers' compensation system – hammered out during months of secret negotiations between business and labor union lobbyists – was dumped on the desks of 80 Assembly members late Friday after being whisked through two perfunctory committee hearings.

California lawmakers approve workers' comp overhaul A bipartisan bloc of lawmakers — after being personally lobbied by Gov. Jerry Brown — approved an overhaul of California's $17-billion workers' compensation insurance program that promises to hike benefits for injured workers and cut costs for employers.

Lawmakers pass workers' compensation changes Lawmakers have approved a series of changes to California's workers' compensation system, sending Gov. Jerry Brown a 170-page bill that arose in the final days of the legislative session. The Senate passed SB863, 34-4, late Friday, hours after the Assembly approved the bill on a 68-4 vote.

Governor Brown Issues Statement on Workers' Compensation Reform Vote Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued the following statement regarding the California Legislature's vote on workers’ compensation reform: “I commend the Legislature for an extraordinary workers’ compensation reform bill that helps injured workers and averts an imminent crisis of skyrocketing rates. Again, Republicans have joined Democrats to work together – perhaps, a portent of good things to come.”

GUEST OPINION: California's main threat to labor: Prop. 32 Labor Day is a relatively new national holiday dating back only to 1894, but the idea behind the importance of working people having a voice in our political process had been discussed at least a century earlier by the primary author of the Constitution of 1787, James Madison.

REGION: DA's office gets $2.4 million to investigate, prosecute fraud A Riverside County agency was awarded a $4 million federal grant on Tuesday to buy land for endangered-species reserves. The Riverside County district attorney's office received more than $2 million to bolster its anti-fraud unit and crack down on auto and workers' compensation insurance scam artists, it was announced Thursday.


State News 9.04

Pension reform allows cities to bypass bargaining  Pension reform approved by the Legislature last week gives many cities new cost-cutting power that some have been unable to win from public employee unions at the bargaining table.

Walters: Three races could tip the balance in the California Senate  As the Legislature adjourned for three months last Friday, the Capitol turned its attention to the Nov. 6 election, and particularly three – or perhaps four – state Senate contests whose outcomes could affect the balance of legislative power

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