Workers’ compensation agreement reached

The major policy obstacle to ending the special sessions was lifted Sunday when negotiators reached agreement on workers’ compensation reform. It does less than business wanted, arguable much less, and goes further than union leaders deem acceptable. So, by the common standard that a good compromise is one that leaves all parties at least partially dissatisfied, this is a good compromise. And, objectively, it does take the step further toward stabilizing financies in the state’s troubled workers’ compensation system.

The Olympian has initial comments.

“There’s no one here who won. There’s no one here who lost,” Gregoire said while looking around at Democratic and Republican leaders from both chambers.

“This is a fair deal for everyone involved,” House Speaker Frank Chopp said.
(Here for the Speaker’s official statement.)
Washington State Labour Council president Jeff Johnson disagrees.
“It is atrocious,” Johnson said. “For workers, it’s a loser.”
Association of Washington Business president Don Brunell considers the reform an improvement, but notes that more work remains to be done.
“Washington state’s workers’ compensation system cannot continue indefinitely in its current state – even with the changes reflected in this agreement,” Brunell said.
Erik Smith at Washington State Wire gives a good overview. The key provision is a “structured settlement” option – not the compromise-and-release or voluntary settlement option supported by reformers – for workers age 55 or older, dropping to age 50 by 2016. We’ll have more details in an upcoming WRC policy brief.
Overall: Progress. Smith calls it a baby step, which reminded me of one of my favorite movie clips.