Calif. Injured Workers Protest at Schwarzenegger’s Offices in Five Cities

Injured workers on Monday picketed California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s offices across the state, calling upon the governor to withdraw his reported proposal to take away their choice of doctor, and cut temporary and permanent disability benefits.

The injured workers were joined by consumer advocates who said the governor’s proposal lacks any real regulation requiring insurers to reduce rates or pass on savings to employers.

“Without requiring insurers to reduce rates and pass cuts through to employers, the cuts to injured workers will go into the pockets of some of the nation’s largest corporations,” Ignacio Hernandez of the Consumer Federation of California told a Sacramento news conference outside the State Capitol.

Injured worker Steve Duncan, who suffered massive injuries in the Tosco Refinery explosion of 1999, told the news conference, “The governor’s proposal would further injure me and other injured workers. He wants to limit temporary disability to two years when many of us require multiple surgeries that take years to complete before we qualify for permanent disability benefits. If the governor’s proposal were in place now, I would have been kicked off disability years ago. Taking away my choice of doctor is the worst of all his proposals. I want to be treated by a doctor that has my confidence and my best medical interest at heart, not one that is looking to cut corners and pinch pennies for the insurer.”

Injured workers protested outside the governor’s offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Francisco and Sacramento.