Stacking the deck against worker's compensation claims:
This summer, a small note in the General Assembly's final budget bill reclassified the Industrial Commission's 22 deputy commissioners, turning them from career civil servants into at-will employees who will either be reappointed or let go. The lives and careers of these administrative law judges were placed directly into the hands of the commission's chair, a young McCrory appointee named Andrew T. Heath. The first group of deputy commissioners will be let go on Feb. 15, 2015, and have already begun to be replaced by more pro-business-minded Republicans.
"There's an effort being made on a state level to get conservative and pro-business people appointed to commissions and for the commissions to be an advocate for reduction of benefits," says Steve Embry, a veteran workers' comp lawyer and president of the Workplace Injury Law and Advocacy Group.
A safe workplace doesn't just magically appear, there are certain outside influences that drive it. OSHA wields a pretty heavy statutory stick, but the agency simply doesn't have the resources to monitor more than a small percent of workplaces each year. Insurance companies, however, are a totally different overseeing animal. And the more worker's compensation claims your company forces them to pay out, the more involved the insurance company gets in your operation. As such, if a tainted Commission rejects many/most workplace injury claims, nothing will change to reduce those injuries. The system isn't perfect, but with a useless Secretary and Board of Labor, and a mere 3% labor union membership rate, it's all workers have left. Or did have, anyway