Workers Comp Zone


A couple of developments in the last few days worth noting
(from afar: I’m in Guandong province, China, but more on that later).

In LA County Superior court the trial judge ruled in favor of the insurers in a suit brought by the “new” Albertson’s. At issue is the interpretation of excess policy coverage and what it takes in terms of injury or occurrence to trigger the excess policy coverage. Wexford, adjusting for CNA and TIG, took the position that each injury must be dealt with separately. Albertson’s invoked the Wilkinson case (recently disapproved by the WCAB in the Benson case) to bolster its position.

The court’s decision will undoubtedly be appealed. But for the moment excess carriers can celebrate a result which lowers their risk.

Also catching my eye from afar is the impending California Senate hearing on ABX1, the Schwarzenegger-Nunez healthcare reform package. According to today’s San Francisco Chronicle, State Senator Leland Yee will oppose the bill. Yee’s opposition (along with that of State Senator Sheila Kuehl, who like Yee, favors a single-payer Medicare type plan) may leave the bill without sufficient votes in committee. ABX1 is unlikely to garner any Republican votes. Yee apparently has concerns about requiring individuals to purchase insurance under a plan that does not sufficiently regulate what insurers can charge for their product.

But back to Guandong. I’m here, in Jiangmen, China. It’s a 2 hour hydrofoil ferry from Hong Kong, up one of the tributaries of the massive Pearl River (will someone remind me why there is no hydrofoil service between San Francisco and Sacramento, which is a similar distance?)

I counted at least 4 bridges over the Pearl River that were built since I was here a couple of years ago.

Jiangmen is one of the Chinese cities with millions of people that you’ve never heard of. Parts of it remind me of Pleasanton or Santa Clarita. Broad boulevards, new office parks. But the modern hotel has a farm collective out back-perhaps 10 acres of vegetable pots, a small lake, a handful of wooden shacks and sheds.

New autos everywhere. Department stores not too different from Mervyn’s or Sears. Not that everyone’s buying all that much.

This is the modern China. Guandong is one of the coastal provinces that have been the most economically successful
in China. It’s one of the first provinces that benefited from the outsourcing of American jobs.Workers from interior provinces continue to migrate to the coastal provinces.

Still, wages here are extremely low. Today I saw an ad wanting a forklift driver at 750-1,000 RMB per month. That’s about $125 per month when converted into U.S. dollars.

Chinese labor law issues and worker rights is a complicated subject. From time to time I’ll be posting on international worker rights issues. But today I thought I’d share with you some article titles I noted while browsing a Chinese magazine waiting to use this computer terminal. These article titles (from “Skylife” magazine) may tell you a lot about the aspirations and trends in China today:

“Pursue the harmonious inhabitancy”
“Construct infinite life”
“Mature the mechanism of operation”
“Residence by the river”
“Enterprise citizen”
“The experience in the French palace”
“The kitchen likes a living room”
“We must be international”
“We need originality”
“Chinese style beyond the world”
“Not only to satisfy foreigners”
“From crossover to international”
“The importance of approving and comprehending”
“New homes in the urban”
“Good design needs innovation”
“Brand, relating to life”
“To shape prize brands”
“May life live with wine”

Stay tuned. I’ll be doing one more post from Asia-probably from Guangzhou (Canton), China before returning to the Golden State.

Julius Young

Category: Political developments