Response to Newsday Editorial on Workers’ Comp Reform

Below are two letters to the Editor written by New York Workers' Compensation Alliance members objecting to Newsday's March 21st editorial supporting the Pataki reform proposals:

To the Editor:

I know Newsday is one of Long Island's major employers (owned by the Times-Tribune conglomerate), but I never thought its own corporate self interest would would infect its positions on the editorial page. On the issue of workers' compensation, apparently it did.

How soon Newsday forgets. 9/11 was the worst workplace tragedy in the history of the United States. Besides the over 3000 deaths, many Long Islanders suffered devastating permanent partial disabilities and will never return to any gainful occupation. The survivors and their families on Long Island live with this cruel reminder every day. Without the notoriety of 9/11, similar crippling permanent partial disabilities occur each and every day to workers on Long Island. Newsday notes that these serious injuries only make up 11% of those receiving benefits, but make up 72% of the cost. Isn't this the way it should be - with the most seriously disabled receiving the majority of workers compensation benefits? Newsday's logic on this issue eludes me.

There are no research studies showing that New York's workers' compensation costs cause New York to be less competitive than other states. In fact, all leading economic indicators point to a strong economy and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently published a report showing that manufacturing is particularly strong in New York. The fact that a number of other states have a different approach is not a persuasive argument to change New York's Workers' Compensation Law. Perhaps New York, like it is in so many other ways, is ahead of the rest of nation on this issue.

On March 25, 1911, 146 immigrant workers lost their lives due to unsafe workplace conditions in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in lower Manhattan. This tragedy was directly responsible for the groundbreaking enactment of the New York State Workers' Compensation Law. On the eve of the Triangle Fire's anniversary, it is disappointing that Newsday would take a stance hurting injured workers even further on its editorial page.

Troy G. Rosasco
Co-Chair
New York Workers' Compensation Alliance

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To the Editor:

Your support of putting a cap on the length of time a person who is permanently partially disabled can receive workers' compensation benefits fails to answer the most important question created by placing a cap on this type of workers' compensation benefits. (Reform for Workers' Compensation, Editorial, March 21, 2006) If a worker cannot be retrained after slightly over 9.5 years of benefits and is unable to return to work, who will pick up the cost of supporting the worker? If the workers' compensation benefits are cutoff it is likely that the injured worker will be moved from the workers' compensation rolls to the welfare rolls. Why should the taxpayers support this person when the employer has already purchased insurance for this injured worker? Capping benefits for a person who is permanent partial disability may result in lower premiums for employers that will be offset by increased taxes for everyone when the injured worker ends up living on social services.

Ronald Balter
Treasurer
New York Workers' Compensation Alliance


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