Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Flipping The Bird

I often write about doing the right thing, and how an employer's culture starts at the top and filters through the ranks, ultimately affecting how workers' compensation is delivered to injured workers.

I have written in the past about professional football, how the NFL has gotten off cheap on its obligations to the players that have sustained traumatic brain disease, and how it has successfully interloped in state politics to get laws passed limiting teams work comp exposure but shortchanging players.

I am convinced that California's recent elimination of the neuropsychology specialty from the Qualified Medical Examiner rosters was tied to the leagues' Los Angeles re-expansion.

But now the Los Angeles Rams wants its players to submit to the workers' compensation laws of the team's former state, Missouri.

The Rams, according to a report by NBC Sports, are offering contracts to new players stating that any workers’ compensation claims will be handled under Missouri law, and any disputes will be under the jurisdiction of the Division of Workers’ Compensation of Missouri.

In anticipation of jurisdictional attacks, the language of the contract further states that its terms have been negotiated and executed in Missouri and, as such, any contract disputes would also be handled in the state.

Missouri was 21st in Oregon's 2014 biannual rankings of most-expensive states for workers’ compensation costs. California, of course, was first. Missouri’s costs are 108% of the median cost among all states, compared to 188% for California.

Benefits are far more stingy in Missouri than California. For instance, Missouri temporary disability indemnity rates are capped at 105% of the state’s average weekly wage (SAWW). The current SAWW in Missouri, set on July 1, 2015, is $844.69 a week, which means the maximum an injured worker can collect, regardless of his salary, is $866.92 a week.

In California, the maximum temporary disability benefit an injured worker can collect is $1,128.43.

And California recognizes the scourge of professional sports, cumulative trauma. To curtail this practice, NFL lobbyists were successful in getting AB 1309 passed in 2013, shutting down the avenue for out-of-state players to file CT claims in the Golden State.

While the players union has rejected these proposed contract clauses, that doesn't mean the team won't keep trying to do the wrong thing.

Forget about workers' rights and whether benefits are better or worse in one jurisdiction or another.

Here's what galls me - a multi-billion dollar business is coming into the state of California, quite willing to suck as much as it can out of the pockets of consumers in the state, quite willing to avail itself of tax incentives that ultimately line the wallets of league owners, quite willing to impose its will on the people ...

Despite the huge financial benefit of moving into a market worth many billions of dollars more than its prior market, this business does not want to abide by that state's laws, or protect its workers (i.e. the professionals on the field) in accordance with the will of the people as expressed in California law.

There's taking advantage of a situation.

And then there's taking advantage of an entire population.

The Rams don't respect the law, don't respect the people of California, and don't respect its own workers - a culture of denigration from the top down...

I get offended when someone flips me the bird like this. You should too.

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