Workers Comp Zone


The current version of The Economist, a British weekly newsmagazine, features a graphic of a California surfer holding a deformed surfboard. The piece is entitled “Where it all went wrong: California offers a warning to voters all over the world”.

The deflated phallic image highlights the current California predicament.

Political gridlock, as legislative vote math blocks revenue raising solutions. Initiative-imposed political solutions which have left policymakers boxed in. High unemployment.

As with so many crises these days, there is much pressure to blame working people. Can we really afford a decent unemployment system?
Should our employers pay a living wage? Can we afford good schools?
Can we afford to pay our public employees a pension that will sustain them? Can we afford to have a workers’ comp system that provides adequate benefits to the disabled?

Should we sacrifice a group here or there? Are school kids more important than Medi-Cal recipients? Should working folks care about the rights of injured workers, or public employees with pensions, or immigrants who are trying to create a stable life here? Is someone, or some group, expendable? Too expensive? Too inconvenient?

In a week in which the failed Pacific Gas & Electric CEO resigns and is rewarded with a $35 million severance package, and soon after it has been revealed that industrial behemoth General Electric is paying no taxes at all, perhaps it is time to take stock of where we are.

No wonder so many “regular folks” feel that the deck is stacked against them.

It’s good to have some think tank voices advocating for the interests of working men and women. There isn’t enough of that in California or the nation.

Prominent among those advocates are some of the researchers and writers associated with the UC Berkeley Labor Center.

Just this week the UC Berkeley Labor Center issued short issue papers worth checking out,

There’s “Living Wage Policies and Big Box Retail: How a Higher Wage Standard Would Impact Walmart Workers and Shoppers”, by Ken Jacobs (UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education), Dave Graham-Squire (UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education), and Stephanie Luce (City University of New York): … cies11.pdf

And there’s “Unemployment Benefits Critical to Jobless Workers and Economic Recovery in California” by Sylvia A. Allegretto (economist at the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment) and Laurel Lucia (Center for Labor Research and Education at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment): … s_2011.pdf

Ultimately we can’t have a healthy economy without an economically healthy middle class. These studies demonstrate that.

Stay tuned.

Julius Young

Category: Political developments