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Organized labor calls current Legislature one of the worst

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Topeka — Labor officials are not happy with the Kansas Legislature.

Citing a recent report that lists Kansas as one of the nation's 10 most deadly states in workplace safety, labor officials said Wednesday the 2013 Legislature will be remembered as one of the most anti-worker legislatures ever.

"Far too many people are dying on the job in this state and instead of strengthening protections for working people, our elected officials are further rigging the system against Kansas workers," said Bruce Tunnell, executive vice president of the Kansas AFL-CIO. "Their misplaced priorities will mean that the health and well-being of more working people are at risk on the job."

An AFL-CIO report said that 78 workers were killed on the job in Kansas in 2011, a rate of 5.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to the national average of 3.6 deaths per 100,000 workers. In addition, 41,000 workplace injuries and illnesses were reported, which was a rate higher than the national average. Kansas ranks 40th in workplace safety, according to the report.

But instead of addressing these safety issues, Tunnell said, the Legislature approved and Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law measures that make it more difficult for injured workers to collect workers' compensation.

Senate Bill 187 puts the appointment of workers' compensation judges more in the hands of businesses and insurance providers. Business groups said the former system favored nominees who were the least objectionable, and not necessarily the most qualified.

Senate Bill 73 reduces the time an injured worker can report a workplace injury, and puts in place new impairment guidelines for injured workers that organized labor has opposed. Supporters of the bill said the new impairment ratings were simply an update.

Comments

imastinker 1 year, 6 months ago

I wonder if agricultural workers are included in that figure, and how our state compares to other states with similar types of jobs.

chootspa 1 year, 6 months ago

Yes, it includes agriculture, since that's the biggest cause of fatalities in this state and a hugely dangerous industry in general.

imastinker 1 year, 6 months ago

I agree. How does Brownback's actions have any effect on the death rate?

I would guess that kansas fatality rate is similar to other states. Not trying to defend any of this, but any discussion should start with a decent set of facts.

chootspa 1 year, 6 months ago

The governor appointed two state secretaries of labor (one of whom he also suddenly fired), so he does have influence on how safety issues are handled. Brownback is also on record as opposing Dept of Labor regulations on youth farm work. Children count for a disproportionate number of farm injuries and deaths, which was why the regulation changes were proposed in the first place.

This year he also changed how the state reacts to injured workers. They have less time to report an injury, it's harder for injuries to qualify for compensation, and the governor has more freedom to appoint worker's comp board and appeals board members from industry. So I guess that's one way to make the problem go away, eh? Look how much we're reducing workplace injuries (by making it difficult to file or appeal claims)!

Mike1949 1 year, 6 months ago

this started long before browback became Governor. Workman's comp have consistently gotten worse every few years to a point that if you get hurt in Ks, you are just a throw away person. It all started when Kansas became a right to work state.

What ever you do, don't get injured in Kansas, your life is over from there on! I speak from experience!

KSManimal 1 year, 6 months ago

YEAH! 'cause that free speech/assembly/petitioning of the government stuff should only apply to wealthy business owners.

chootspa 1 year, 6 months ago

And everyone knows that Kansas workers are forced to join unions.

jafs 1 year, 6 months ago

Well, you don't "have" to be. But, a union is an expression of the fundamental constitutional rights mentioned.

Just as the NRA is - do you oppose them?

question4u 1 year, 6 months ago

Yes, anti-worker. What else can you call legislation that gives business owners a free ride while making their workers shoulder the income tax burden? Those business owners are not required to add a single new job, so it's no use trying to evade the issue by talking about job creation. Kansas has become blatantly anti-worker, and the policies are not limited to issues over unions.

Armstrong 1 year, 6 months ago

Yes ! business owners have a free ride, they don't have to beat competitors, provide product, service or profits they just maigically appear ! Add jobs to grow - ha. Who needs a stinking job - stuff just happens out of nowhere to produce revenue. All business owners do is smoke their cigars while sitting on their massive pile of money and laugh at the little guy. Wake up.

somebodynew 1 year, 6 months ago

Personally, I didn't need Organized Labor to tell this is the worst Legislature. I figure that out on my own through this AND other __ they have done.

But I am pro union, and this Legislature is a prime example as to why (some) of them are needed.

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