February 18, 2004
Council launches 'electronic advocacy' campaign to support workers' comp reform
The Business Council has launched a new Web-based electronic-advocacy campaign to show lawmakers the strong statewide support for cost-cutting workers' compensation reform.
The Council launched the initiative Feb. 17 from its Web page, www.bcnys.org. This initiative offers business leaders and others to send letters to elected officials voicing concerns about high workers' compensation costs in New York State and asking them to support reform legislation that would rein in those costs.
The Council is collaborating with local and regional chambers in the effort. Several dozen chambers affiliated with The Council through the Chamber Alliance of New York State (CANYS) will be promoting the e-advocacy effort to their own members.
The letters to elected officials can be sent from The Business Council's Web site and from the Web pages of participating chambers of commerce, said Skye Heritage, manager of regional affairs for The Council and The Council's liaison with chambers of commerce around the state.
"Workers' comp costs in New York remain significantly above national averages and continue to have a major impact on the competitiveness of the state's business community," an introductory message on the e-advocacy site says.
"It's time to tell our legislators that the business community won't stand by and watch as New York's economic climate grows worse. It's time to raise our collective voice for real reform -- before another business closes its doors or leaves New York for good," the message continues.
Visitors to this Web page can enter information on their address and company and automatically generate several letters to Albany, including:
- A letter to Governor Pataki urging him to oppose a bill that would increase workers' comp benefits without enacting any meaningful cost-cutting reforms
- Letters of thanks to state Senator Thomas Libous (R-Binghamton) and Assemblyman Robin Schimminger (D-Kenmore), who are sponsoring a bill that includes common-sense reforms supported by New York's business community.
- Letters to each legislator from the individual's own district asking them to support workers' compensation reform.
The Libous-Schimminger bill (S.5320/A.8862) would:
- Limit, to 10 years, the duration of benefits given to injured or sick workers in cases in which benefits are not prescribed by statutory schedules. The goal is to give workers both ample benefits and sufficient time to seek retraining to return to work.
- Provide for Social Security and pension offsets-that is, reductions in workers' compensation benefits applied when workers receive Social Security and/or pension benefits.
- Give injured workers only half of remaining scheduled benefits if they return to work before scheduled benefits expire.
- Implement meaningful objective medical guidelines to determine the degree of disability and the ability of workers receiving benefits to meet occupational demands.
The Council is also urging lawmakers to reduce state assessments that support the state's "Second Injury Fund." Assessments are surcharges on comp premiums that pay the expenses of the state's WCB and that support special purpose funds, such as the Second Injury Fund.
All letters generated through the e-advocacy campaign can be viewed before being sent. Copies of all letters are e-mailed to uers.