PDC reports filed for March show that the BIAW (Building Industry Association of Washington) has just dumped $100,000 into their Initiative 1067 campagn. Word is that they have hired Roy Ruffino’s Citizen Solutions of Lacey, WA to start collecting signatures using paid signature gatherers. Citizen Solutions has run previous paid signature campaigns for Tim Eyman’s initiative efforts.
As David Ammons of the Washington Secretary of State’s Office notes in his blog From Our Corner, the initiative is:
“aimed at ending the state-run workers’ comp insurance program, which covers 2.5 million workers with coverage for work-related injuries, including lost-time compensation, medical care and other services.
The BIAW initiative, filed with the state Elections Division …would transition the state from the government-run plan to a privatized system. Currently the state covers 171,000 employers, but some of the larger companies are allowed to self-insure.”
Here is the official ballot title and summary for Initiative 1067:
Statement of Subject: Initiative Measure No. 1067 concerns industrial insurance.
Concise Description: This measure would establish a joint legislative task force to develop legislation that would eliminate Washington’s state-run industrial insurance fund by December 1, 2011, with recommendations to the legislature by February 1, 2011.
Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]
Ballot Measure Summary
This measure would establish a joint legislative task force on industrial insurance privatization consisting of sixteen members: eight legislators, five representatives of business, two representatives of insurers, and one representative of labor. The task force would be directed to develop proposed legislation that would eliminate the state industrial insurance fund by December 1, 2011. Task force recommendations would be provided to the legislature by February 1, 2011. The legislature would provide staff and budget support.
One obvious negative impact for workers in this proposal is obvious in the proposed task force mentioned above. Besides 8 Legislators: the committee has 5 business representatives, 2 insurers and only 1 labor representative. Yet the issue is about providing worker’s compensation for injured or sick workers. This committee composition immediately sets up a bias against workers.
David Groves of the Washington State Labor Council writing in Outside the Echo Chamber notes that Washington State has the fifth lowest employer costs of any state.
“One of the most persistent myths about Washington state’s business climate is that our workers’ compensation costs are higher than in most other states. The fact that many employers and public policymakers believe this to be true is another indication of the power and resonance of the negative internal rhetoric about our competitiveness.
….In fact, the gap between the truth and the negative rhetoric about our workers’ compensation costs is shocking. Not only do we have comparatively low premiums, by the national measure most often cited, the workers’ compensation costs to employers in Washington state are the fifth lowest of any state in the nation.
Despite these low costs, Washington’s model state-run system is able to provide comparatively high benefits to injured workers. That’s how this myth took hold that Washington is not competitive in this area. Business lobbying groups continually and deliberately decry the level of benefits –not employers’ actual costs — in their quest to cut premiums even further.”
We are sure to be in an intense campaign of misinformation and disinformation from the BIAW about this measure. The BIAW has previously run an initiative campaign against ergonomic standards for workers which grossly misrepresented the facts. They also have dumped enormous amounts of money into political campaigns to try to elect their candidates to the Washington State Supreme Court as well as backing Dino Rossi for Governor and Rob McKenna for Attorney General.