Several lawmakers led by Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, were arguing for reduced benefits for federal employees injured on the job.
At a hearing on federal employees’ workers’ compensation, the lawmakers supported Labor Department’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs Director Leonard Howie’s proposal to cut benefits for widows and children of those killed on the job and cut compensation provided to workers injured on the job from 75% of their pre-injury salary to 70%. They falsely claimed that giving these employees too many benefits would make them want to stay home and not return to work.
The claim was immediately debunked by other members on the panel led by House Committee on Education and the Workforce ranking member Robert Scott of Virginia and Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, who pointed out that 98% of workers’ compensation recipients are back on the job within two years. The number should be a lot lower if the current structure motivated people not to work. When workers are injured and can’t work, they also are missing out on promotions, raises, bonuses and other means to help generate income.
AFGE applauds Congressmen Scott and Pocan and others on the panel who fervently rejected the proposal that would punish those who are already suffering from their job-related injuries. In a written statement submitted for record, AFGE takes issue with the false rationale behind repeated efforts to reduce workers’ compensation. AFGE cites analysis by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which found that the compensation those injured on the job receive is either equal or less than benefit packages other employees who are not injured on the job receive.