Recently, an article in Mother Jones magazine, reported that nearly two-dozen corporations, including Walmart, Nordstrom, and Safeway are funding a lobbying effort to make it more difficult for workers to receive benefits following an injury at work. They have created a lobbying group, the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers' Compensation (ARAWC), whose goal is to change the workers' compensation laws in all 50 states. The group has already succeeded in making changes to the laws in Tennessee.
According to the article, the group's ultimate goal is to pass laws, which would allow employers to opt out of the traditional workers' compensation system. The laws would allow them to purchase plans, in which they can write their own rules governing when, for how long, and for which reasons an injured employee can access medical benefits and temporary disability benefits. They are also seeking legislation that would put caps on medical benefits paid, and not require employers to pay for artificial limbs, hearing aids, home care, funeral expenses, or modifications to a home or car following and injury at work. ARAWC's representatives noted that the caps on benefits would be in exchange for permitting an injured employee the right to sue for economic and non-economic damages.
In New Jersey, each employer is required to have workers' compensation insurance or be an approved "self-insured" provider. Like Mother Jones herself, citizens of the state of New Jersey need to be aware that the workers' compensation law is constantly changing. Attorneys who handle workers' compensation cases need to stay up to date on the proposed changes.
Mother Jones magazine features investigative and breaking news reporting on politics, the environment, human rights and culture. It's named after a prominent labor and community organizer from the 1930's who helped influence safety at work.