Calif. Employers Launch WCAN to Help Fix Workers’ Comp System

January 30, 2004

California employers – large and small, public and private – are joining together to form the Workers’ Compensation Action Network (WCAN), a grassroots effort to urge quick action by the California Legislature to overhaul the state’s costly and dysfunctional workers’ compensation system.

With participation ranging from large employers like The Boeing Company to smaller employers like Golden Rose Florist, WCAN will reportedly help California employers focus their energies on urging legislative action.

“While many of our members have been active participants in legislative hearings that were conducted in the fall, the Assembly and state Senate have taken no action to advance the Governor’s reform packages. The time has come to intensify our efforts,” said Allan Zaremberg, president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce. Seventy-five percent of the Chamber’s 16,000-plus members are small employers. “The Workers’ Compensation Action Network will help all employers coordinate their activities in the crucial weeks ahead.”

The coalition’s Web site ( informs employers about the causes of the workers’ compensation crisis and encourages participation in the campaign to press for immediate legislative action.

“The severity of this crisis, the impact on injured workers and the damage done to California’s economy every day the crisis goes unresolved, justifies the Governor’s demand that the legislature pass a comprehensive and meaningful reform package by March 1,” said Jack Stewart, president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, which includes more than 700 of the state’s leading manufacturing employers. “The issues have been debated for years and are well-known. The system’s costs must be contained, particularly related to the subjective and litigation-riddled permanent partial disability evaluation process. California’s manufacturers will continue to press for action until the governor’s reform package is enacted.”

California employers – whether privately insured or self-insured – pay far more for workers’ compensation costs than employers in any other state. Since 1997, total system costs have increased more than 150 percent. Companies offering workers’ compensation insurance in California have not made a profit on this line for seven straight years and continue to pay out more in benefits and expenses than they earn in premium, leading many private insurers to flee the state or be forced out of business entirely.

“The public, private and not-for-profit employers of the California Coalition on Workers’ Compensation expect the legislature to take seriously its responsibility to overhaul the workers’ compensation system and to do it now,” said Tim East, who serves as chairman of the CCWC. “California voters understand that workers’ compensation costs are out of control and that employers can’t continue to bleed under the status quo. They expect their elected representatives to act.”

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