Montemaggi Law - Workers Compensation Attorneys

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05 Nov 2015

Declining middle class linked to decline in labor union membership

Posted by Paul J. Antonowicz
Although a couple of years old, I recently came across this telling article about the link between the decline of labor union membership and the decline of the middle class. It reinforces my belief that every working man and woman in this country should belong to a labor union and that we should restrict trade with countries that don't treat workers fairly, not expand it. If you are reading this and have negative feelings toward unions, think about it and look at your bank account compared to the CEO and corporate officers of the company you work for. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/18/union-membership-middle-class-income_n_3948543.html Middle-Class Decline Mirrors The Fall Of Unions In One Chart The Huffington Post | By Caroline Fairchild Posted: 09/18/2013 2:19 pm EDT Updated: 09/19/2013 9:24 am EDT This week the Census Bureau reported the latest depressing decline in middle-class incomes during the so-called economic recovery. But it may have missed an important factor in this story. A report on Wednesday from the left-leaning think tank Center For American Progress notes that as middle-class incomes have steadily fallen, so have union membership rates. The middle 60 percent of households earned 53.2 percent of national income in 1968. That number has fallen to just 45.7 percent. During that same period, nationwide union membership fell from 28.3 percent to a record-low 11.3 percent of all workers. Put these two economic trends together, and a striking image appears: unions middle income Indeed, declining labor-union participation is not the only factor killing middle-class income growth. But increased union participation would likely mean more income for the middle class, the left-leaning think tank Economic Policy Institute argued in a 2009 report. Unions typically increase the wages of their workers while also raising pay for nonunion workers in industries with a strong union presence. Higher union participation rates might also reduce income inequality. The U.S. has the worst income inequality of any county in the developed world, and the nation's top earners continue to see their pay rise as median incomes fall. Union participation could counteract this trend, according to the EPI. So why is union participation declining so rapidly? Private sector union membership reached a peak of about 35 percent of the labor force in the 1950s, The New York Times reports. Since then, labor unions have steadily become smaller as many states have rolled out new laws limiting union power. Young millennials' disenchantment with organized labor may also be an important contributor to its decline. From 2002 to 2012, union members ages 16 to 24 fell by 26 percent. That's double the decline in union membership for all workers, according to Quartz. That said, younger generations may have a good reason to be less than eager to join a union. Studies have discovered that during the economic recovery, non-union workers fared considerably better than union workers in fields like manufacturing and private construction. Also, during the 1982 and 1991 recessions, states with fewer union members were found to recover more quickly than states with a strong union presence.
27 Mar 2015

More Corporate Greed Threatening the Well-being of Injured Workers

Posted by Paul J. Antonowicz

This is outrageous. We should all be prepared to fight this kind of corporate greed that comes at the expense of all. How dare these giant corporations try to make even more money off the backs of workers who they don't want to pay a decent wage and then don't want to take care of when their lives are decimated by an injury incurred while working for the benefit of these corporations.

 

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/arawc-walmart-campaign-against-workers-compensation

25 Mar 2015

Injured Workers Share Their Stories

Posted by Paul J. Antonowicz

Here is the latest installment in the NPR/Propublica series of stories on Workers' Compensation.

https://www.propublica.org/article/workers-compensation-injured-workers-share-stories-of-harm

25 Mar 2015

Are My Social Security Disability Benefits Taxed?

Posted by Paul J. Antonowicz

I frequently get this question.  The best answer I am able to give people is maybe.  It depends upon all your other income.  The link below is to an article from Fox Business News that briefly explains when the benefit might be taxable and how much.

 

http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2015/03/25/taxation-social-security-and-ssdi-payments/

25 Mar 2015

Workers' Comp Fraud By Employers

Posted by Paul J. Antonowicz

I came across the article below about some employers accused of insurance fraud and it reminded me that this type of fraud can be far more costly than fraud by claimants.  Insuarnce rates are set based upon number of employees, the nature of a business and other factors that can be hidden or manipulated.  Also, employers can lie about the occurrence of injuries and coerce employees into not filing claims when they are injured.

 

http://www.milforddailynews.com/article/20150324/NEWS/150328263

25 Mar 2015

Thoughts on recent NPR/Propublica reporting on Workers' Compensation benefits

Posted by Paul J. Antonowicz

I wanted to add a few thoughts in addition to the NPR/Propublica articles I have been sharing. In 2007, New York State enacted a series of changes to the Workers' Compensation Law for some of the very reasons cited in the NPR/Propublica reports. Part of the justification of these changes was that New York was out of sync with other states and needed to be more competitive. However, there was a certain balance to the New York changes that benefited injured workers in some ways while cutting back benefits in others. The biggest part of the bargain was that maximum payment rates were greatly increased, the first increase in decades and were indexed to increase based upon statewide average wages, while permanent partial disability benefits were subjected to a cap except for the most severe disabilities. To me, this was not unreasonable. There are some problems, of course, but the bargain was not unreasonable in the abstract. However, the business community and insurance industry are trying to alter that bargain while not giving up the benefit they received on a number of fronts. The Business Council has launched an effort to try to reduce schedule loss of use awards (the awards given for loss of an arm, leg. etc.) claiming that these awards are "out of control". The NPR/Propublica report on loss of arms (projects.propublica.org/graphics/workers-compensation-benefits-by-limb) proves that New York's loss of use standards are not incredibly or overly generous. The maximum benefit in New York that a high-wage earning can receive currently for loss of use of an arm is $252,299. Reviewing the chart on Propublica shows this is quite in keeping with neighboring states.

I have also heard complaints that payment rates are going too high based upon the annual changes in maximum rates. All this while insurance rates have dramatically declined since implementation of the changes and insurance company profits increased. There appears to be no explanation for these attempts to further erode workers' benefits other than callous greed. It is important to point out that Workers' Compensation is not funded through tax dollars but by surcharges on businesses. So contrary to what many believe, tax dollars are not what pay for Workers' Compensation.

25 Mar 2015

More Data to Back Up The Decline in Workers' Compensation Benefits

Posted by Paul J. Antonowicz

Below is some more information on changes in Workers' Compensation Banefits that overall have hurt injured workers.  It is an article in response to a letter from an insurance industry group which challenged some of the conclusions and statements in the recent Propublica/NPR stories on Workers' Compensation.

 

http://www.propublica.org/article/insurance-information-institute-challenges-our-workers-comp-investigation

24 Mar 2015

Employers Need to Take Responsibility for Workplace Safety As Part of Cost Control

Posted by Paul J. Antonowicz

Below is a link to an insightful commentary on the responsibility employers have to control the cost of their Workers' Comp insurance. I have also seen the failure of employers to do anything other than hire an outside company to handle claims, but take no steps to prevent claims in the first place or worse have the only thing they do be to discourage people from filing legitimate claims. If there is any truth to claims of "out of control" and rising Workers' Compensation costs, perhaps a big part of the solution is for employers to take a look in the mirror and fix safety and training issues in the workplace.

http://www.workerscompensation.com/compnewsnetwork/workers-comp-blogwire/20994-response-to-propublica-report.html

23 Mar 2015

History of Workers' Comp

Posted by Paul J. Antonowicz

I recently came across the blog entry at the link below which brought to my mind the importance of understanding why we have Workers' Compensation laws. The horrific working conditions of the nineteenth century brought about political instability, terrible injuries and uncertainty for everyone. This is why it is so important to reign in the current Workers' Compensation "reforms" so that they do not result in a return to the bad old days. Civilization and stability are good for everyone.

http://www.insurancejournal.com/blogs/academy-journal/2015/03/19/360273.htm

20 Mar 2015

NPR/Propublica Chart on WC changes by state

Posted by Paul J. Antonowicz

Below is a link to an interesting interactive chart that shows recent changes in Workers' Compensation laws by state. While I am not sure it is as easy to characterize these changes as is done in the chart (for example, in NY there were some types of benefits reduced and others increased), you can click on each state to see the exact changes.

 

http://projects.propublica.org/graphics/workers-comp-reform-by-state?state=

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