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NC Chamber tells members it needs cash for workers' comp fight

The powerful N.C. Chamber, which is in the midst of a heated battle to overhaul the state's workers' compensation system, is asking its business members to direct some of their cash flow to the cause.

"Our lobbyists are working around-the-clock and going toe-to-toe with our opposition — but it will take an organized, united business community to get this legislation passed!" Lew Ebert, the chamber's president, wrote in an e-mail message to the organization's members last week. "We hope you'll consider giving to our workers' comp campaign."

The funding plea came a week after Ebert noted in his "president's memo" that "plaintiffs' lawyers and labor unions are already mounting a well-financed, coordinated attack on this [Chamber-supported] bill. They flooded the legislature ... to oppose the legislation even before it had been introduced!"

Ebert is promising an all-out effort to educate the public on the need for revising a system that he views as too costly for business.

A key component of bills pending in the state House and Senate would be a cap on income benefits for most workers at 500 weeks. That would be in line with South Carolina and Virginia and more than 400 weeks available in Tennessee and Georgia.

The chamber and other critics complain the current system invites abuse and has the unintended consequence of providing injured workers with an incentive to stay home.

Supporters — led by attorneys who represent injured workers and organized labor — contend that scaling back benefits would shift costs from businesses to taxpayers. The aim of the business lobby, they argue, is to push  injured workers who can't perform their old jobs into unsuitable jobs that pay much less.
 


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In comparing NC with

In comparing NC with surrounding states, Mr. Ebert neglects to mention that NC's workers' comp premiums are lower that SC and Tenn and on par with GA.  Perhaps they should be more like us, rather than us being more like them.  He says that the current system is too costly for business.  In fact, under our current system, the average workers' comp premiums have gone down by 21.9% since 1995 according to the NC Dept of Insurance. 

He says that the current system invites abuse.  Fraud by workers is about 1%, so that for one abuser of the system there are 99 who are not.  Mr. Elbert's "reform" would reduce benefits for all of them, the vast majority of good, as well as the miniscule minority of bad.  If he really wants to target abuse, then he should promote legislation that gives the Industrial Commission more money to hire more fraud investigators to go after those who abuse the system (including employers who are supposed to carry workers' comp insurance and who do not).  The problems with this suggestion is that it does not put more money in the pockets of the insurance companies, which is the real purpose of the proposed legislation. I may be cynical, but I'm betting extra money to the insurance companies will not be passed on to NC businesses in lower premiums. 

The Chamber is deceiving businesses

Look at the Chamber's workers' compensation reform bills, House Bill 709 and Senate Bill 544.  These are nothing more than Insurance Company Profit Enhancement Bills.  There is absolutely nothing -- I repeat, NOTHING---in these Bills that will directly save any North Carolina small business or insured business any money on work comp.  All of the cost savings in these Bills will accrue to two entities:  The large insurance companies such as AIG that sell work comp insurance in NC, and to the large self-insured businesses such as the chicken processors.  The average, rank and file business in NC that buys work comp insurance will get the shaft under these bills just like the workers whose rights and benefits are being reduced.  Google "AIG workers' compensation fraud settlement" and you will see the type of company that the Chamber is actually helping.   

It amazes me that most of the business people in NC are too stupid to look at these bills and understand that they are not getting anything here.  Why on earth is the business community supporting this effort at all?  Maybe it is just a hatred of working people.  

The chamber just wants

The chamber just wants another bailout.  What exactly are totally disabled people supposed to do once their medical and disability benefits are cut off after 500 weeks?  Their only option will be to go on social programs like medicaid and food stamps.

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