Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Demand federally enforced minimum compensation for all injured workers.
Injured workers across the nation are treated very differently when it comes to compensation, leaving some in a spiral of poverty and poor care. Without federally mandated minimum compensation, the onus falls on the state to determine what amount an individual’s workplace injury is worth, often causing unnecessary financial burden to those who no longer have the ability to make a living and those who must take a large amount of time off from work. Demand revised standards be implemented federally to keep states from denying workers the compensation they deserve.
Two men, 75 miles apart, suffered similar work injuries, which caused them to lose a portion of their left arms. Jeremy Lewis in Alabama was compensated $45,000 through workers’ comp, while Josh Potter of Georgia could be compensated over $740,000 over his lifetime for a nearly identical injury. The only notable difference between the two men’s injuries is the state they worked in at the time of the accident.
The injured worker is paid for a certain number of weeks’ worth of work, depending on what part of their body was lost or impaired. This amount varies state-to-state. Since Congress does not require insurers to pay a federal minimum for each body part, the amount paid for workplace injuries can be drastically different by state and injury. Each state is also granted the authority to determine what percentage of the injured worker’s former wage must be paid in compensation until they return to work; another reason for the disparity between the amount Lewis received in Alabama and the amount Potter received in Georgia. In fact, Georgia’s compensation cap for a lost arm is twice that of Alabama’s.
According to an NPR report, workers’ comp is at its lowest since the 1970s, reduced in large part to entice more business into that state’s competitive industrial market with its low compensation payout standards. This nationwide business competition is costing employees more than they can afford. No one is likely to get rich off even the most generous compensation package, but many families stand to lose everything because of the stingiest.
Sign this petition urging Congress to institute federal minimums for workers’ compensation to protect injured workers.
Dear President Obama,
Putting a price on the loss or impairment of a body part may seem cold and calculating, but those amounts could determine a family’s future. Without federally regulated minimum compensation, some states leave their injured workers in downward spirals of poverty, while others allot residents enough to at least stay on their feet.
Without minimums, states can lower their compensation to entice businesses to set up shop within their borders, possibly improving that state’s economy, but placing little importance on the residents who supposedly benefit from said business.
I urge you to institute fair minimum workers’ compensation to ensure that no U.S. workers are left injured and without hope.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Walleigh via Wikimedia Commons