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“The Princely CEO’s Of Corporate Larceny”: Scurrilous Corporate Thieves Are Stealing Workers’ Comp

They say there’s honor among thieves, but I say: That depends on the thieves.

Your common street thief, yes — but not those princely CEOs of corporate larceny. America’s working families have learned the elites in the top suites are rewarded for being pickpockets, swindlers, thugs, and scoundrels, routinely committing mass economic violence against the majority of America’s working people to further enrich and empower themselves.

But now comes a cabal of about two-dozen corporate chieftains pushing a vicious new campaign of physical violence against workers. The infamous anti-labor bully, Walmart, is among the leaders, but so are such prestigious chains as Macy’s and Nordstrom, along with Lowe’s, Kohl’s, and Safeway. Their goal is to gut our nation’s workers’ compensation program, freeing corporate giants to injure or even kill employees in the workplace without having to cover all (or, in many cases, any) of the lost wages, medical care, or burial expenses of those harmed.

Started more than 100 years ago, workers’ comp insurance is one of our society’s most fundamental contracts between injured employees who give up the right to sue their companies for negligence when injured on the job and employers who pay for insurance to cover a basic level of medical benefits and wages for those harmed. Administered by state governments, benefits vary, and they usually fall far short of meeting the full needs of the injured people. But the program has at least provided an important measure of help and a bit of fairness to assuage the suffering of millions.

But even that’s too much for the avaricious thieves atop these multi-billion-dollar corporations. Why pay for insuring employees when it’s much cheaper just to buy state legislators who are willing to privatize workers’ comp? This lets corporations write their own rules of compensation to slash benefits, cut safety costs — and earn thieving CEOs bigger bonuses.

But who, you might ask, would help these corporate crooks in their callous and calculating scheme to rob workers of their hard-earned benefits? Why, that would be the work of ARAWC — the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation.

When you come across a corporate lobbying group claiming to be pushing “Responsible Alternatives to Such-and-Such,” you can rightly assume that it’s really pushing something totally irresponsible, as well as malicious, shameless, self-serving and even disgusting. Mother Jones magazine reports that ARAWC is a front group funded by these hugely profitable retail chains and corporate behemoths that want to weasel out of compensating employees who suffer injuries at work. By law, corporations in nearly every state must carry workers’ comp insurance, but the ARAWC lobbying combine is pressuring legislators to allow the giants to opt out of the state benefit plans and instead substitute their own, highly restrictive set of benefits.

What a deal! But it’s a raw deal for injured workers. In Texas, which already has this write-it-yourself loophole, more than half of the corporate plans — get this — pay nothing to the families of workers who’re killed in job accidents! Similarly, under an ARAWC-written opt-out provision that a Tennessee senator sponsored this year, employers wouldn’t have to cover artificial limbs, home care or even funeral expenses of on-the-job accident victims.

Also, the Tennessee bill lets a company simply walk away from maimed workers after just three years or after paying only $300,000 in expenses. Corporations always claim to “value” their employees — and this tells us exactly how little that value is.

By the way, the CEO of ARAWC also happens to be the head of “risk management” at the mingiest of workplaces: Walmart. And that’s what this opt-out scam amounts to — corporate profiteers hoping they can manage to escape paying for risking the lives of America’s workforce. Yes, this shifty move is a scurrilous crime, but it’s a crime that pays richly for those at the top. And the money can fill the hole in their souls where their honor used to be.

 

By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, April 15, 2015

April 16, 2015 Posted by | CEO'S, Corporations, Workers | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Beware Of ‘Freedom’ Fighters”: GOP Pushes Bogus Workplace Bill From 1996

This week, House Republicans are rolling out a plan they hope will boost the party’s appeal among working families, by giving private sector workers the option of converting overtime pay to paid time off. Pushing the bill, which is expected to get a vote this week, is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who made it a key item in his big February speech pitching the GOP to working families. The speech was meant to kick off the GOP’s new, softer agenda, but if the party is looking for fresh ideas after their defeat in the 2012 election, this isn’t one.

Republicans introduced the same idea in 1996, 1997 and 2003, even making it one of the first 10 bills they moved in the Newt Gingrich-era. The talking points haven’t changed much. “To many working men and women, time with their family is just as valuable as extra money,” current House Speaker Boehner said in March of 1997. “In fact, many would prefer to have time rather than money,” then-Rep. Judy Biggert said in 2003. “Time is more precious to [a working father] than the cash payments,” Rep. Martha Roby told the National Review last month.

But that’s typical Washington, where old ideas get repackaged every year. What labor advocates are more concerned about is that the bill supposedly aimed at helping working families might actually hurt them by undermining the 40-hour work week and “increasing overtime hours for those who don’t want them and cutting pay for those who do,” as Center for Economic and Policy Research economist Eileen Appelbaum wrote. The National Partnership for Women and Families said the “mis-named Working Families Flexibility Act will mean a pay cut for workers without any guaranteed flexibility or time off.”

The bill didn’t pass Congress in previous years for this very reason. When GOP leaders were courting New York Rep. Peter King to vote for the measure in 1997, he asked if they had spoken with labor groups about the measure. “It was as if I had said, Have you met with somebody from Mars?’” King told the Newsday on March 25 of that year. He voted against the bill.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the business lobby of the country’s largest corporations, supports the bill.

In Cantor’s “Making Life Work” speech in February, he explained that, “In 1985, Congress passed a law that gave state and municipal employees this flexibility, but today still denies that same privilege to the entire private sector. That’s not right.” But that move was to cut costs for government, not provide workers with more freedom, Judith Lichtman of the National Partnership for Women And Families told the AP. And government employees generally have the protection of both a union and civil service laws.

And as Ezra Klein noted, if the problem is that working parents don’t have enough free time with their kids, then why not give them more by guaranteeing paid vacation days to employees? The U.S. is the only developed country that doesn’t have a law ensuring all workers get vacations, thanks to fervent opposition from Republicans and corporate interests. “Instead, Cantor is saying that the way to solve the problem of working parents not having enough time with their kids is to give them an incentive to work more overtime,” Klein wrote.

Almost any bill can be touted as a freedom issue, but it’s telling when the people don’t want the freedom they’re supposedly getting.

By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, May 6, 2013

May 8, 2013 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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