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AFL-CIO PRESIDENT STATEMENT ON WORKERS' COMPENSATION: DEFEAT MADIGAN RIPPER AMENDMENT; ADOPT GOVERNOR'S WORKERS' COMPENSATION PLAN

AFL-CIO PRESIDENT STATEMENT ON WORKERS' COMPENSATION: DEFEAT MADIGAN
 RIPPER AMENDMENT; ADOPT GOVERNOR'S WORKERS' COMPENSATION PLAN
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Following is a statement issued today by William M. George, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:
 In 1915, business and labor entered what has become known as the "historic compromise." Workers gave up the Constitutional right to sue for workplace injuries for no-fault Workers' Compensation. Today, the historic compromise is threatened by a Ripper Amendment proposed by Senator Madigan.
 Working men and women totally reject the Madigan Ripper Amendment as cruel, inhuman, and an attack on workers. Written by insurance companies, the Madigan Ripper would solely benefit insurers at the expense of Pennsylvania's injured working men and women, as well as Pennsylvania business.
 In sharp contrast is the proposal, House Bill 2140, P.N. 2853, passed by the State House with bipartisan support on a vote of 121 to 80. The House Bill, originally proposed by Governor Casey, would dramatically lower costs to employers; knock out the 52 percent rate hike request of the insurance industry cartel; help small employers by pooling for self-insurance; lower medical costs and save lives by giving employers an incentive to provide a safe workplace. We applaud the House action and ask the Senate to totally reject the Madigan Ripper and each and every one of its pieces.
 The Madigan Ripper would turn Governor Casey's plan on its head. Senator Madigan's proposal scapegoats injured workers as the way to "reform" Workers' Compensation.
 Senator Madigan's Ripper would break the deal between business and labor that has lasted for 76 years. His benefit and eligibility cuts would put Pennsylvania's injured workers behind every state in the nation. Should the Madigan Ripper pass, Pennsylvania labor would call upon the legislature and the governor to repeal the Workers' Compensation law and demand the return of our right to sue employers for workplace injuries.
 I will not go into great detail, but the Madigan Ripper would cause almost every injury to be litigated under a new higher and more difficult evidence standard.
 The Madigan Ripper ties injured workers to the company doctor for 120 days -- currently, that rule applies for the first 14 days only.
 The Madigan Ripper cuts benefits for all injured workers by not counting all earnings and averaging earnings over 52 weeks. Today, negotiated benefits, such as pensions, child care and other so-called "cafeteria" benefits correctly considered income. Madigan would disregard these negotiated benefits. Today, also, in recognition of a worker's real wage rate, benefits are determined by high quarter earnings. These changes alone would make Pennsylvania payments the worst in the nation.
 The Madigan Ripper removes the economic incentive for a safer workplace.
 The Madigan Ripper denies injured workers' benefits if he/she goes to school for retraining without employer approval.
 The Madigan Ripper tries to make Workers' Compensation like charity or welfare by requiring people injured at work to turn their pension, severance pay or old age Social Security over to their employer.
 The Madigan Ripper would require workers to submit to operations or lose benefits.
 For the record today, Pennsylvania ranks 28th in benefits to injured workers. In other words, 27 other states treat injured workers better than Pennsylvania.
 At the same time, the average cost to Pennsylvania employers today is slightly below the average cost to employers nationally.
 The insurance industry cartel, known as the Compensation Rating Bureau, a private group of insurers, is behind this evil plan. They have had it great for the last 76 years.
 Operating legally under a 76-year-old law that allows price-fixing for a product all employers must buy, they have been ripping off Pennsylvania employers. In addition, they police the system. The cartel has only really been challenged during the Casey administration.
 Governor Casey has proposed, and the House has passed, the plan to break up the cartel's price-fixing power. The governor has also provided for all employers the potential benefits of self-insurance, estimated annually at 25 percent. The governor's plan knocked out the cartel's request for a 52 percent increase this year.
 Finally, the governor has said that any Workers' Compensation system should provide incentives for a safe workplace to protect lives and lower costs.
 The Madigan Ripper eliminates each of these real reforms. No self- insurance; no workplace safety; keep the 52 percent rate request in place, and no reform of the price-fixing machine. The only change is to actually increase the power of insurance company price-fixing. The Madigan Ripper eliminates prior review of rates by the insurance commissioner as long as they meet the minimum cartel rate.
 Apparently, business groups were either co-opted by their insurance company members or simply overpowered in their efforts to influence the Madigan Ripper. The Madigan Ripper is bad for both business and labor.
 Today, we call on all senators of both parties to reject the Madigan Ripper. The choice could not be clearer. The Madigan Ripper will have only one impact -- to further enrich the greed of insurers.
 The House-passed bill will reduce costs for Pennsylvania's job- producing employers and save lives.
 Kill the Madigan Ripper -- adopt the House-passed plan proposed by the governor.
 /delval/
 -0- 2/4/92
 /Editors: A copy of the Workers' Compensation Comparison of House Passed Governor's Bill -- House Bill 2140, P.N. 2853 and Madigan Ripper Bill is available upon request./
 /CONTACT: David Wilderman or Jim Deegan of the AFL-CIO, 717-238-9351/ CO: Pennsylvania AFL-CIO ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


KA-MK -- PH033 -- 6816 02/04/92 15:27 EST
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