Michigan Republicans — November 19, 2011 at 11:00 am

Mich Republicans to use “imaginary wages” and “imaginary pensions” to reduce workers’ compensation benefits


You have to hand it to the Republicans in the Michigan legislature. Just when you think it’s not possible for them to kick the 99% in the face any more ruthlessly, they go and prove you wrong. Their current targets are workers who are injured on the job and the creative ways they are coming up with the reduce workers’ compensation benefits will stagger your mind.

So far this year the legislature has passed bills to raise your taxes and tax your pensions…now they want to take away money you don’t even have!

House Bill 5002, passed by the House and now in Senate Committee, would cut worker compensation benefits by wages you don’t earn at a job you don’t have. And it would reduce benefits for older workers by the amount of pensions they might qualify for, but don’t receive. Other parts of the bill would prevent you from being treated by your own doctor for 45 days.

Why are they doing this? It’s not because they need the money. Worker compensation insurance rates have been reduced for 12 of the last 16 years and they’re scheduled to go down by 7.4% next January. A recent study by the industry backed Worker Compensation Research Institute said Michigan’s worker comp system is a “competitive asset” for the state with total costs per claim 35% lower than the median of states studied.

Contact your state senator now and tell them to vote “No” on HB 5002, an unfair attack on injured workers who are already struggling to make ends meet while they recover from their injury.

If you don’t know who your state senator is, go to www.senate.michigan.gov/fysenator/fysenator.htm.

Make the message loud and clear; “Stop the attack on injured workers! Vote “No” on HB 5002!”

You can also sign We Are The People Michigan’s online petition HERE.

Get that? Imaginary wages. Imaginary pensions. Telling you which doctor you must see in the early days of your injury. And none of it necessary because the workers’ comp insurance rates are actually on a downward trend with Michigan having lower rates than most states.

Here are a few more details, courtesy of the American Federation of Teachers (pdf):

  • Creates “Imaginary Wages” – Regardless of Available Work
    The bill defines “wage earning capacity” as the wages the worker is capable of earning, whether or not actually earned. This sets up a precarious situation for the injured worker. If he or she is determined to have the capacity to earn, even though not employed, that dollar amount is deducted from the worker’s compensation formula.
  • Hurts Older Workers Too – with “Imaginary Pension”
    Older workers are placed in a similar predicament. This bill says if you are “eligible” for a pension, regardless of your financial ability or desire to retire, the amount of “potential pension” would be deducted from your worker’s compensation formula.
  • Employer Controls What Doctor Treats You
    Currently, after ten days from the inception of medical care, the worker can choose to treat with a physician of his or her choice by providing the employer with the name of the physician and the intent to seek care from that individual. This bill would increase that time period to 45 days, meaning that the employer chooses who provides medical care for the first 45 days.

Senate Republicans know damn well this legislation is going over like a turd in a crystal punchbowl in our state. In order to sneak this through, Sen. Mark Jansen, the chair of the Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee is holding hearing on the bill NEXT WEEK. Why is this significant? Because the Senate is still on their fall break next week and it’s a holiday week, virtually assuring poor attendance and minimal press and coverage.

Signing We Are The People Michigan’s petition sends an email to a select group of Republicans on this committee – likely ‘no’ votes.

If you are a worker who has been on workers’ compensation, We Are The People Michigan needs to hear from you. They are looking for people to testify at this hearing next week and at future hearings. They have set up a webpage for people to sign-up to participate. If you are someone who has been on workers’ comp, especially fire fighters and police officers, please contribute your voice to the effort to stop this odious and harmful legislation by signing up. Again, the sign-up page is HERE.

Are you an individual who has been on workers’ compensation now or in the past? You more than anyone understand how crucial this is for Michigan’s working families and why we need to fight to protect it here in Michigan.

We’re looking for individuals to attend hearings at the Capitol in Lansing in the coming weeks. If you are interested in helping out, please sign below.

We must tell Lansing to protect workers, not CEO’s!

Imaginary wages? Imaginary pensions? My gods, I am almost afraid to ask what the Michigan Republicans will come up with next.