Opinion: Applicants attorneys, Teamsters join forces in workers’ comp

Some were surprised by the recent announcement that our two organizations are joining forces to provide better advocacy on California workers’ compensation policy and politics. While some may wonder what workers’ compensation attorneys have in common with truck drivers and other Teamsters, we both represent tens of thousands of working Californians who have been disabled by a work injury. CAAA’s workers’ compensation attorneys know better than anyone how the policies, politics and operations of the workers’ compensation insurance system impact those hurt at work.

CAAA members see every day how the cost of medical care and disability compensation is being shifted from insurance companies to group health plans, and taxpayer-funded social security or disability insurance programs.

The Teamsters and other unions bear the burden of that cost shifting. Our members are driven out of the worker’ compensation system and into our health insurance programs when they can’t get employers’ insurance carriers to provide medical treatment or disability compensation. Working together we are better prepared to end this shell game that harms the people we both represent.

Our collaboration will improve results for those we represent. We share the common goals of reducing workplace injuries and improving the medical care and disability compensation that Californians injured on the job require to heal, pay their bills while injured and return to work.

There are powerful lobbies (insurance companies, chambers of commerce, large employers and governments) that oppose our drive for adequate disability compensation; prompt, quality medical care; and, effective return-to-work programs, so joining forces will help us level the playing field.

The Teamsters have a long history of affiliating groups of like-minded individuals. Both of our organizations are open to working with all professional organizations with which we have a common purpose.

CAAA’s expert attorneys are a fountain of information and intelligence about what is happening in California’s workplaces. They see every day how injuries happen and the aftermath. They are passionate about improving the treatment of Californians who are injured doing the dirty, tough and dangerous jobs needed to keep our economy moving. And Teamsters members do many of those jobs. We are also looking for ways to improve workplace safety to reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries.

We look at our partnership as the beginning of a new era in California workers’ compensation politics and policies. We will put our leaders together to come up with solutions that work for all who deal with this issue. We will coordinate our political efforts as well to ensure that legislators see the real-world impact of the policies they enact.

We look forward to working with all other stakeholders in the workers’ compensation system.

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