Wisconsin’s Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council serves as the driving force behind the state’s historically stable and first-rate work comp system. Wisconsin gets its injured workers back to work faster than virtually all states in the country. We have extremely low litigation rates (a recent study showed only 13% of work injuries require an attorney). We have stable and falling work comp insurance premiums-an 8% decrease for 2017.
These are the marks of a great work comp system thanks to the Advisory Council.
So, of course, some legislators want to blow it up! This is a classic example of a fix looking for a problem!
Republican legislators recently introduced legislation (AB 308) to drastically alter the makeup of the Advisory Council. Traditionally, the Advisory Council’s makeup is five management, five labor, and three non-voting insurance members appointed by Secretary of Dept. of Workforce Development (DWD). After Council deliberations, they produce a biennial “agreed upon” bill, which is then submitted to lthe egislature that, in turn, generally accepts the bill. As the DWD site proudly prounces:
One of the most important and enduring principles of the Council is maintaining the overall stability of the worker’s compensation system without regard to partisan changes in the legislative or executive branches of government. The Council provides a vehicle for labor and management representatives to play a direct role in recommending changes in the worker’s compensation law to the Legislature.
The 2017 introduced bill proposes to alter only the makeup of the “labor” side of the Council. The proposal would reduce the amount of organized labor representatives on the Council in proportion to the amount of unionized workers in the state.
When a hearing occurred last week on this bill in the assembly labor committee, the legislature faced overwhelming opposition to this measure. A story on WorkCompCentral (Stakeholders Line Up Against Bill Aimed at Reducing Union Role on Advisory Council) detailed that opposition from the system’s stakeholders-including a broad array of the insurance company community. The insurance companies know that any major change to the Council could create uncertainty in the system. With uncertainty, there is risk. With risk, there are increased costs and insurance premiums.
There is no need to change the current Council makeup, especially in light of the beneficial metrics the current system produced-and continues to produce. The five organized labor representatives continue to be the best representatives-with the broadest expertise and breath of knowledge-for all workers, whether unionized or not.
We hope this proposed legislation is dead on arrival. The Advisory Council system works for Wisconsin. An attack on the Council is an attack on the system’s stability.