July 16, 2020

Change workers’ comp law

For 10 years, a handful of us in the Maine Legislature have worked to change Maine’s costly Workers’ Compensation law in an attempt to make our law more reasonable and cost-efficient.

Despite the fact that some of us have worked diligently to change this law, we have been unsuccessful due to the fact that the majority of the legislators simply have been unwilling to do so. Without sounding partisan, the simple truth is that since the Democrats in the Legislature have complete and absolute control of the State House and since changing this law would require a simple majority vote, obviously this law could be changed at any time if the Democratic majority so wished.

My support of Workers’ Compensation reform should not be construed that I support limiting benefits to legitimately injured workers or cutting benefits to people who are injured on the job. Despite what some people might write in this column, I have never supported legislation deterimental to working people nor would I ever support legislation that would eliminate benefits to legitimately injured workers.

My desire to change our Workers’ Compensation law is simply an attempt by me to maintain jobs and provide new jobs for the people whom I represent. I’ve witnessed, on a first-hand basis, what Workers’ Compensation is all about and believe an affordable law can be both beneficial to the worker and the small business person. Unfortunately, some of your readers fail to realize that to support Workers’ Compensation reform does not mean one is against Maine workers.

My personal knowledge on this issue results from a work-related injury my father sustained in 1966 while working for the State of Maine. This injury left my father with a broken back which included eight damaged vertebrae and six destroyed discs. He is now a paraplegic, all a direct result of a legitimate on-the-job injury. At the time, I was in fifth grade, so no one needs to explain to me the trauma and pain associated with the consequences of a workplace injury. Anyone who implies otherwise would be misleading your readers, to say the least.

As an oil-burner repairman who visits 400 to 500 homes a year, I have tremendous contact with everyday working people and fully understand their viewpoint in this area. Our workers obviously expect our laws to protect them from workplace injury. Most of them also realize that Maine’s current law needs to be changed immediately or their job stability and long-term future remains very doubtful. As long as our employers are faced with these staggering costs, the workers of Maine will never receive the increased wages and benefits which they need and deserve. Charles M. Webster Senate Minority Leader Augusta

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