White House Moves Forward with Workers Comp Cuts During Pandemic

https://www.afge.org/

June 1, 2020

The Trump administration is moving forward with its proposed cuts to federal workers’ compensation benefits despite the coronavirus outbreak.

Under Trump’s proposal, which is part of the administration’s fiscal 2021 budget proposal and is expected to be included in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, workers who are injured on the job would see steep cuts in their workers’ compensation. Here’s what the administration is proposing:

1. Reduced benefit for claimants with dependents

All new claims would be paid at 66 2/3% of salary regardless of dependents. Currently, OWCP wage loss compensation is at 66 2/3% of salary for claimants with no dependents and at 75% for claimants with dependents.

2. There would be a reduced amount when the claimant reaches retirement age

Currently, claimants can continue to get 66 2/3 or 75% of their salary as long as they continue to show inability to work due to the accepted condition – even into retirement age. The administration proposed a reduced amount when the claimant reaches retirement age:

  • Employees injured at ages 35-54 will receive a conversion benefit of 58%
  • Employees injured at ages 55-65 will receive a conversion benefit of 50%
  • Employees injured at age 66 and over will receive a conversion benefit of 45%

3. There would be a 3-day waiting period following an injury when the employee would not be paid

For the first 45 days after a worker files a claim and until it’s accepted, the worker is entitled to continuation of pay (COP), which is paid by the agency at full salary. If the worker needs to be off work more than 45 days, then workers’ compensation kicks in with wage-loss replacement benefits at 2/3 or 3/4 of salary. This was meant to keep injured workers paid while OWCP processes the claim, and 45 days was the average time.

Currently, injured workers are put on administrative leave the day of injury and the COP period starts the next day if their claim is accepted.

Under the administration’s proposal, injured workers would take annual leave, sick leave, or leave without pay before the 45-day COP period begins. The three-day waiting period means an injured worker would not get workers’ compensation for the first three days.

Savings on the backs of the injured

The proposal came as the coronavirus is raging across the country, infecting thousands of federal workers, many of whom still do not have proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves against the virus while working on the front lines.

By taking away these benefits from those injured while serving the American people, the administration hopes to save $212 million in 10 years.

“This policy proposal is shocking in its plain immorality – even by the standards of this administration,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley. “Our civil servants have been on the front lines keeping essential services running throughout this pandemic, putting their own health and safety at risk. That risk has been compounded by the widespread inability of this administration to provide adequate safety protocols and personal protective equipment. It shows the absolute disdain this administration has for everyday working people that they would even suggest that these front-line workers’ reward for their service should be a cut in benefits if they get sick or injured while on duty.”

Virginia AFL-CIO Statement on Justice for George Floyd

Virginia AFL-CIO

Brothers & Sisters,

Please view our statement on Justice for George Floyd and Our Response to the Events of the Past Few Days below.

Virginia AFL-CIO Statement on Justice for George Floyd and Our Response to the Events of the Past Few Days

Brothers & Sisters,

America is in a state of unrest, Virginia included. While in the midst of a pandemic that is disproportionately killing Black and Brown people and exacerbating the systemic inequities that exist for those people today, their suffering, anger, and pain could not be pushed aside any longer.

Our hearts are heavy at the events of the past few days. Lives of working people such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, are just three among the many whose lives have been taken and whose voices have been silenced for decades.

Unions actively stand to give voices to the voiceless, to drive out hate in the darkest of places, to fight for the safety and equality for workers, and to stand for reforms that address the unequivocal injustices that are done to the many oppressed, working Americans day-in and day-out.

Racism, senseless killing and violence, and the forces that seek to divide this nation for their own personal and political gain at our, the working people’s expense, are not welcomed, are not tolerated, and will never have a home in the heart of Unions.

As a Labor movement, we will continue to fight to rid our society of the systemic racial, social, and economic inequalities that continue to rear their heads and plague our communities, denying true justice to too many of our brothers and sisters.

As in all times of despair, we will press forward. We will overcome the hate crimes. We will continue to protect our most vulnerable communities being harmed by both infections and senseless fatalities. We will unify, and further our standing in solidarity to build, uplift, empower, and make sure that those who “can’t breathe” will be given back and allowed the breath in their voices so that they may speak and be heard loud and clear. As we have sang thousands of times: “For in our hands, is placed a power, greater than their hoarded gold, greater than the might of atoms, magnified a thousand fold, we can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old, for the union makes us strong…solidarity forever.”

In Solidarity, Peace, & Love,

Virginia AFL-CIO

Pride at Work National Statement: ‘Black Lives Matter. George Floyd Should Be Alive’

Pride at Work National Statement

Black Lives Matter. George Floyd Should Be Alive.

WASHINGTON – People around the world watched in horror as the life slowly drained from George Floyd while a police officer held his knee on his neck and George and others pleaded for his life. In the wake of this tragedy and the ongoing violence against the Black community at the hands of police, Pride at Work cannot be silent. During their annual meeting today, the Pride at Work National Executive Board issued the following statement:
“Pride at Work condemns the murder of George Floyd and we demand swift justice for his family, friends, and community.
“Black and Brown people across the United States continue to suffer daily from police brutality and systemic racism. Too many Americans fear that what happened to George Floyd could happen to them. In fact, the LGBTQ community lost one of our own, a Black transgender man named Tony McDade, to police violence just a few days ago in Tallahassee, FL.
“Organized labor lives by the motto, ‘An injury to one is an injury to all,’ and right now, there are far too many injuries for any of us to be silent.
“From Ahmaud Arbery, to Breonna Taylor, to Sandra Bland, to Eric Garner, to Tamir Rice, to Andre Emmett, to George Floyd and countless others. We will continue to say their names and fight to end the structural racism and bigotry that took their lives. We cannot be silent as our siblings in the struggle are slaughtered in the streets.
“Pride at Work will continue to band together, to stand up to police violence, and to fight systemic racism and white supremacy in all its forms. We will continue to fight for racial, social, and economic justice now and forever.
“Rest in power. Each of you.”

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Statement of United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble on George Floyd Death

I want to send a message to the family of George Floyd. I cannot begin to imagine what you are going through in these hours after your son’s tragic and needless death. As a father and grandfather, I want to personally extend my most heartfelt sympathy to your family.
Sadly, he is one of many African Americans who have been the victim of racial profiling and brutality in this country. We have all seen the headlines. I say this with great sorrow and not to vilify our brave men and women in blue. We represent many police officers and they are truly untold heroes who go to work every day to keep all of us safe. They have bravely been on the front lines of this pandemic, as they are always on the front lines when our nation is in need. But in this case, things went terribly wrong, and we must look at this issue as a nation. No matter how painful, we cannot not turn away.
Now I’m going to speak very plainly here. I am an African American man also from an urban center and you may think that this is why I am speaking out. But I am speaking as an American, as a union tradesman, and I am speaking to us all.
These are unprecedented times for us all. What we need now is not hard heartedness. Not division. Not looking at our differences but looking at who we are and what we value as Americans. And we are ALL Americans. We are this nation and our differences should be our strength, not our weakness. Not our tragedies.
This pandemic, terrible as it is, has in my opinion, shown us that we are in this together and we must rely on one another if we are going to navigate in this worldwide crisis. This is a scary time, and fear and prejudice are our enemies. We must not allow these human failings to prevail. When I look at the terrible, tragic circumstances of Mr. Floyd’s last minutes, begging for his life, I know that we as a nation failed this young man. This must not be our course as Americans. This must not be our story. And this cannot be the future of our nation.
George Floyd’s death is an American tragedy in a time of extreme pain and uncertainty. The color of our skin cannot — and must not — divide us. If this young man’s untimely and terrible death teaches us anything, I hope it is that we need to all see each other as Americans. Each and every one of us — Americans.
And as Americans, I think we need to serve warning that we are watching out for the safety of our fellow Americans and will do what is necessary to keep each other safe. And we will hold those accountable, regardless of who they are, if they put any of us in peril.
We have a word for it at the UAW: SOLIDARITY.
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Teamsters Statement on the Murder of George Floyd

The following is a statement from James P. Hoffa, Teamsters General President, and Marcus King, Director of the Teamsters Human Rights and Diversity Commission.
“This past week marked another tragic time in our nation’s history with the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, this is just the latest incident of an unwarranted police killing of an unarmed black man in the United States, and a harsh truth that we must accept – equal justice under the law is not a reality for all Americans. Black people fear for their lives on a daily basis by the very institutions which are supposed to protect them. It may not be most of our truths, but we must acknowledge and understand that this is the truth of so many black and brown brothers and sisters in this union and throughout our country.
“The Teamsters Union has long supported the civil rights movement and the fight to ensure the fair treatment of all our people regardless of race, color, gender or sexual orientation. We reject social injustices such as racism, which have eroded and divided us as a country for far too long. Denying that racism still exists and continues to operate in ways which destroys lives and communities threatens our very freedom.
“The Teamsters Union unites 1.4 million working people of all races and nationalities across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, including more than 30,000 law enforcement members who also condemn this act and ask that we understand that it is not representative of the entire law enforcement community. They also acknowledge that while there has been some progress made within police departments across the nation to engage in constructive dialogue to improve relations among police officers and people of color, there is still a long road ahead. And we all have a role to play in getting there as we cannot afford to lose any more innocent lives.
“Therefore, this is not a time when we sit in judgment and ridicule of each other, but when we unite in a show of solidarity and compassion to ensure that all people are treated fairly with dignity and respect.
“On behalf of this great union, we send our condolences to the family of Brother George Floyd, and may justice prevail.”
George Floyd

Statement from American Federations of Teachers Officers on the Killing of George Floyd

AFT President Randi Weingarten, Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson and Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus issued the following statement after the death of George Floyd, a black resident of St. Louis Park, Minn. Floyd was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a local police officer’s knee, and later died. Following the incident, all four police officers involved were fired:
“Hate is rising in the United States with a zeal, emboldened by the White House, among others. It is a stain on our humanity, and good people must gather together to resist and repel it. Nearly six years after the death of Eric Garner, how many more black men will die at the hands of authorities after saying ‘I can’t breathe’? George Floyd had a right to live. The haunting question we must ask is: If Floyd had been white, would that police officer have continued to put his knee on Floyd’s neck after hearing him say he couldn’t breathe? Black families deserve to raise their children in a world that does not traffic in this gross inhumanity, and that does not also force them to bear the burden of confronting it. The fact this is not self-evident is, in itself, a moral failing of America.
“If you were jogging like Ahmaud Arbery, or sleeping like Breonna Taylor, or driving like Philando Castile, you were simply living as a black person in America—until you weren’t. Every black person in this country has a right to live, a right to breathe, and a right to be a part of their community without fear of violence and senseless attack simply for the color of their skin. Acts of hate like this are unfortunately not new, unique or disconnected. They represent a serious crisis in our society. This cannot be normalized. People of color in America are exhausted, and they’re terrified, and they have every right to be.
“The Minneapolis Police Department—like many police precincts across this country—must address the systemic stereotypes and profiling that make incidents like these all too common. We support the FBI in conducting a thorough investigation, and we implore the Justice Department to conduct a civil rights investigation into this murder. We pray not to have to mourn one more death like George Floyd’s, and we honor his memory.”