The following is a joint statement from ITLA President, Stephen D. Phillips and the Illinois AFL-CIO President, Michael T. Carrigan in response to a recent report released by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce on Workers’ Compensation.
Joint Statement by the Illinois AFL-CIO and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
By Michael T. Carrigan, President, Illinois AFL-CIO and Stephen D. Phillips, President, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
This most recent report by the Illinois Chamber is nothing more than another shot taken by a business organization that has spent the better part of four decades attempting to dismantle a program built to assure that workers maimed or injured receive fair compensation.
The so-called report points fingers at the same alleged “villains” the business lobby always blames – unions and judges. The glaring problem with the Chamber’s report is that it both misrepresents the facts and uses data prior to significant changes imposed in 2011. To cherry pick and misrepresent a handful of cases – in this case, less than one percent of what the Supreme and Appellate courts have disposed of in the last 10 years – shows this to be the public relations stunt we have grown so familiar with from the Chamber. As importantly, all the cases cited by the Chamber involve injuries prior to the 2011 Workers’ Compensation amendments.
The 2011 reforms, arrived at through lengthy negotiation between business and labor, have reduced insurance rates 14.1 percent or more than $315 million per year – a fact conveniently ignored by the Chamber. If employers have not realized those savings, it is because the insurance companies used by employers kept the money as profit.
Perhaps, instead of following the anti-worker laws passed in other states bent on restricting or eliminating the rights of the injured worker, the Chamber should take the most logical and straightforward method in addressing the issue by joining with Labor in calling for insurance premium transparency and reform.
The Chamber’s report is a predictable refrain we have heard whenever there is discussion of increasing the minimum wage or strengthening workplace safety requirements. Trying to prejudice the independence of our courts or chasing other states to the bottom for worker protections certainly would be a bonanza for big business, but the rest of Illinois would suffer the consequences.