Workers Comp Zone


The week isn’t yet over, but you may be feeling a bit cranky.

You wouldn’t have wanted a $35,000 antique commode with legs, but it galls you to see that former Merrill Lynch chief John Thain spent over a million redecorating his office at a firm bailed out by taxpayers. You’re pissed at sharpsters from Wall Street grabbing big bonuses in late 2008 while their enterprises sustained billions in losses.

You’re still struggling to understand why they allowed Lehman to fail. Or how Lehman failing could be big enough to bring down the pillars of the temple.

You’re sick of hearing about banks that refuse to lend after being allocated money to lend.

You’ve probably seen a scowling WCAB or DWC employee this week. Who can blame them for being dispirited as they face a mandatory salary cut?

You may not believe that more tax cuts are the solution. Trickle down economics doesn’t float many boats these days. Supply siders seem to be out of a supply of ideas.

And you may be feeling anxious about where the stimulus is headed. Knowing that California’s budget impasse must be solved soon-somehow-you wonder whether California’s eventual budget solution will blunt the local impact of federal stimulus?

In this “Bailout Nation”, how much transportation infrastructure and solar and wind energy capacity will actually get built in your part of the state? Will there be ferries, more metro stops, high speed rail, new schools or just windy promises and grants to community based organizations that will fritter the money away?

Is the “no earmarks” bill anything but an extra-extra-extra big bale of goodies lumped together to cover something for every interest constituency? And how much paper money is the Fed printing on those presses anyway?

Do you have that nagging feeling that no one has the answers except the gold bugs?

So, as the week fades, you look for something positive. Some quantum of solace.

Here it is: the Lilly Ledbetter Act.

President Obama has now signed the first significant employment law passed during his Presidency. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act reverses a ghastly United States Supreme Court decision which held that workers with equal pay claims had to sue within 180 days of the discrimination.

Ms. Ledbetter, who worked for Goodyear Tire in Alabama, did not discover until years later that men had been paid more for the same type of work she was doing. Under the Supreme Court’s interpretation of
the law, she had 180 days to sue from the first time Goodyear paid her less than those co-workers. Never mind that she had no idea that women were being paid less than men for doing the same work.

Worker advocates were never able to get the Bush Administration to support a bill to reverse the 5-4 Supreme Court decision.

This has now become the first bill signed by Obama.

Here’s a link to the Washington Post piece on the bill: … id=topnews

And here’s a link to a piece by New York Times columnist Gail Collins, who reminds us of several courageous women who fought for worker fairness: … nted=print

It’s something to celebrate amid the gloomy economic news.

Stay tuned.

Julius Young
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Category: Political developments