This legislative session brought some exciting victories as well as some deep disappointments. Labor accomplished big things this year that benefit all Californians but when it came to advancing worker protections, many of those bills were vetoed.
Arnold Schwarzenegger rode into the Governor’s office in 2004 on the campaign promise to “fix” the workers’ compensation system. Every day in 2004, the media hammered home Schwarzenegger’s talking points that California’s highest-in-the-nation workers’ compensation costs were driving employers, and jobs, out of the state.
In the face of a relentless media campaign and the threat of an extreme workers’ comp reform ballot measure, the Legislature passed SB 899 in 2004—a draconian bill that gutted the workers’ compensation system and created more pain and suffering for injured workers.
Since SB 899, permanently disabled workers have seen their benefits slashed to the bone. Medical treatment is delayed and denied by insurance companies, sometimes for over a year. As a result, injured workers are stuck at home battling insurance companies for the medical care they need, with no ability to return to work.
After eight years of watching injured workers struggle with a slashed permanent disability schedule,