The Santa Clara and California Chambers of Commerce have identified the first “job killer” bill of the year. SB 626 (Beall; D-San Jose) severely undercuts the recent balanced workers’ compensation reform deal agreed to by labor unions and employers.
The bill proposes dramatic cost increases for California employers and would leave them worse off than before the reforms of last year were enacted.
In 2012, labor unions and the business community came together to reform the California workers’ compensation system, passing Santa Clara Chamber-supported SB 863 (De León; D-Los Angeles).
The goal of this reform package was to provide injured workers with needed benefit increases, but offset these increased costs by closing certain loopholes and making the workers’ compensation system operate more efficiently with fewer disputes and litigation.
The reforms achieved this balance—injured workers are guaranteed nearly $1 billion in benefit increases, while employer costs are projected to be reduced after regulatory implementation of system reforms.
The proposals contained in this reform were forged and vetted by representatives of both labor and employers through a multi-year process of research, discussion and extensive negotiations.
SB 626 eliminates the entire balance of the deal and would erase hundreds of millions of dollars in projected savings. Specifically, SB 626 would roll back reforms dealing with timely, high-quality medical treatment and a more predictable—and less litigious—permanent disability system.
Not only will employers face pre-reform escalating costs if this bill is enacted, but they also will be burdened by an additional $1 billion in benefit increases with no expectation that this cost will be offset by system savings.
SB 626 is a giant step backwards for California employers during the current fragile economic recovery. Additionally, SB 626 reverses a bipartisan labor-employer compromise. These types of agreements between key stakeholders that enjoy overwhelming bipartisan approval should be encouraged and protected, not attacked and diluted.
I urge you to write or call Senator Beall’s office and urge him to withdraw SB 626 from consideration. He may be reached at his Campbell District office at 408-558-1295 and by mail at 2105 S. Bascom Ave., Ste. 154, Campbell, CA 95008.
Steve Van Dorn – firstname.lastname@example.org