This Budget Season: Protect Injured Workers!
Over a thousand injured D.C. government employees go through the Public Sector Workers’ Compensation Program each year. These benefits are intended to give injured government workers financial security when injured on the job and help them pay for their medical care, rent and other basic necessities. Unfortunately, in prior budgets, the D.C. Council cut several procedural protections for government workers driving these injured workers into poverty.
The cuts have stacked the deck to such a degree that workers lose their benefits prior to even receiving a hearing and can almost never find private attorneys willing to help them appeal these decisions. As a result of these changes, the D.C. Employment Justice Center has seen a large increase in the number of public sector workers who arrive at our clinic and ask for help navigating the incredibly complex workers’ compensation system. Many of these formerly middle-class workers have fallen into poverty and some have even lost their homes as a result of their injuries.
In partnership with a group of injured workers activists, EJC is advocating for the reinstatement of some of the most important protections for injured workers. The most important step the Council could take to remedy this issue is to include language from the Protecting Injured Government Worker Act of 2012 in this year’s Budget Support Act. This would, among other things, ensure workers had the opportunity for a hearing before suffering benefit cuts and would restore the “great weight” traditionally given to the medical opinions of treating physicians rather than government-appointed doctors.
Click here to email Councilmember McDuffie, who oversees the Public Sector Workers’ Compensation Program, and Council Chair Mendelson to tell them we want this year’s budget to protect injured workers, not push them into poverty!
Crossposted from Fair Budget Coalition blog.