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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Worker's Comp, Walker, and Wisconsin’s Wailing

Guest Blog by Thomas M. Domer

What’s the connection between worker’s comp and Wisconsin Governor Walker’s assault on public sector bargaining rights? The immediate effect is that public sector workers will earn less money, and when hurt on the job, get less worker’s comp benefits. Over the longer term, denying the unions’ right to bargain over health benefits and working conditions will have significant effects.

Many public sector workers (cops, firefighters, teachers, city and county workers), will fall into the “no health insurance” heap that affects many private sector employees currently. When their claims are denied by the self-insured employer (the city, county, or school district), employees will not be able to get timely needed medical care for their injuries. And, to be sure, cities, counties and school districts will be under tons of political pressure to tighten their belts and budgets by denying claims with greater frequency. Lastly, since unions won’t be able to bargain over working conditions, safety issues will arise at a predictably larger rate. Workers will be at risk by the “corner-cutting” measures put in place by the budget slashing, no tax increase political mandate the ruling party possesses.

Thomas M. Domer practices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin ( He has authored and edited several publications including the legal treatise Wisconsin Workers' Compensation Law (West) and he is the Editor of the national publication, Workers' First Watch. Tom is past chair of the Workers' Compensation Section of the American Association for Justice. He is a charter Fellow in the College of Workers' Compensation Lawyers. He co-authors the nationally recognized Wisconsin Workers' Compensation Experts Blog.