Tonight the Senate passed legislation to reform the state's 100-year old Workers' Compensation system by a vote of 35 to 12. But, according to Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, workers will get the short end of the stick under the deal brokered in the final hours of the 30-day special session.
“We have taken a major step backwards today in our state’s long history of protecting workers who are hurt on the job,” Nelson said. “This is a sacrifice—not a compromise—on behalf of the working families of our state.”
House Bill 2123, which passed the House Floor earlier today would allow permanently-disabled workers over age 55 to receive their settlements over a period of time, which could result in workers losing up to $335 million in benefits over the course of just one year.
“This is supposed to be a workers’ compensation system—not an employers’ compensation system,” Nelson argued. “But over the last few years, we’ve done the opposite by giving employers over $700 million in rebates to win political favor.”
“And now we’re cutting benefits and eroding our 100-year old system on the backs of workers yet again,” Nelson continued. “Under these types of settlement schemes, an injured worker who is struggling finically is pressured into accepting an insufficient settlement and sign away his or her rights to the benefits and medical care.”
“Proponents say this will save the system a billion dollars, but what that really means is that injured workers will be getting less benefits and medical care than they need and are owed,” Nelson added. “These aren’t cost savings—they are cost shifts to injured workers, and when they can no longer adequately care for themselves, to the taxpayers.”
For interviews: Sen. Sharon Nelson 360-786-7667