When you come across a corporate lobbying group claiming to be pushing “Responsible Alternatives to Such-and-Such,” you can rightly assume that it’s really pushing something totally irresponsible, as well as malicious, self-serving and even disgusting.
That’s the case of the Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation (ARAWC). Mother Jones magazine reports that this is a front group funded by hugely-profitable retail chains and other corporate behemoths that want to weasel out of compensating employees who suffer injuries at work. By law, corporations in nearly every state must carry workers’ comp insurance, but the ARAWC lobbying combine is pressuring legislators to allow the giants to opt-out of the state benefit plans and instead substitute their own, highly-restricted set of benefits.
What a deal! But it’s a raw deal for injured workers. In Texas, which already has this write-it-yourself loophole, more than half of the corporate plans — get this — pay nothing to the families of workers who’re killed in job accidents! Similarly, under an ARAWCwritten opt-out provision that a Tennessee senator sponsored this year, employers wouldn’t have to cover artificial limbs, home care or even funeral expenses of on-the-job accident victims.
Also, the Tennessee bill lets a company simply walk away from maimed workers after just three years, or after paying only $300,000 in expenses.
Corporations always claim to “value” their employees — and this tells us exactly how little that value is.
By the way, the CEO of ARAWC also happens to be the head of “risk management” at the mingiest of workplaces: Walmart. And that’s what this opt-out scam amounts to — corporate profiteers hoping they can manage to escape paying for risking the lives of America’s workforce.
This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.