April 10, 2012

Maine Voices: Last-minute workers' comp bill would hurt the badly injured

The legislation benefits insurance companies, to the detriment of public safety workers and others.


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If this bill is passed, it may serve employers in the form of lower rates, but more importantly, it will be a windfall for insurance company profits. Incidentally, since the 1992 changes, employer's comp insurance premium rates have fallen by nearly 56 percent. In October and November of 2011 alone, rates dropped 7.5 percent. But now the insurance companies want more.

Labor workers comprise the backbone of our Maine economy. Public safety workers keep us safe. When young people choose careers in the labor or skilled labor trades, they should have an expectation of protection if they are injured or become ill. If they are injured badly enough and are unable to finish their work life in their chosen career, they should be protected. The present law provides that protection. Our collective conscience should not allow for a reduction of the present benefit level.

Labor advocates maintain hope and faith that Maine legislators share that conscience, in their last week of service as elected senators and representatives, and give this bill the appropriate and conscionable "thumbs down."

Richard Wurfel was a Portland firefighter from 1977 until 2010 and now serves the Portland Professional Firefighters Association, Local 740, IAFF as the staff assistant to the president for workers compensation and health insurance.

-- Special to the Press Herald


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