Letter from the WCA Chair

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Workers’ Compensation

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Dear Colleagues:

As previously scheduled, the Workers’ Compensation Alliance (WCA) Board of Directors held a meeting on the Friday, July 16, 2010. By vote of the Board at that meeting, I was elected to the position of Chair of the WCA, succeeding co-Chairs Victor Pasternack and Brian Mittman. I write to you today to explain why I am honored to lead the WCA, how we see the current political landscape, why your help is needed, and to offer a preview of what we intend to do.

Our Board is comprised of actively practicing attorneys who are members of some of the foremost firms in our field. Each of us is dedicated to representing injured workers both on an individual level and on the broader social and political stage, and all of us have committed our time, energy, and resources to advancing our cause.

The WCA is Uniquely Positioned to Protect the Rights of Injured Workers.
The WCA is uniquely positioned to protect injured workers and their right to representation, just compensation and due process before the Board.

By appearing at the Workers’ Compensation Board on a regular basis, our members gain valuable real-time insight into the challenges that face practicing attorneys and their clients. In fact, many of our Board members and their firms serve on task forces, committees and commissions throughout the State; thus providing access to important organizations and political figures that influence policy and practice.

Every bit of our practical knowledge, policy influence, and political credibility will be needed in the coming months. (In fact, the WCA has long been represented by the pre-eminent labor lobbyist in Albany building credibility as an established political force.)

The Current Political Landscape and the WCA.
The November elections are less than four months away. There will be a new Governor, a change of leadership in the Senate and Assembly Labor Committees, and it is entirely possible that political control of the State Senate may change hands.

The workers’ compensation system was a high priority for Governor Spitzer during his short tenure, and the process he set in motion has continued through the tenure of Governor Paterson. We anticipate that there will be a sense of urgency in various quarters to complete the “Spitzer reforms” by the end of the year, and as a result we will need to remain vigilant in the defense of our clients and our role as attorneys in the system.

Remaining vigilant requires a unified effort to oppose anti-claimant and anti-attorney changes. In doing so we must keep in mind our core principles and the broader legal and political picture, and resist the urge to take actions that merely provide temporary satisfaction of our own immediate concerns about the trend of injustice we have faced when dealing with the Board and Albany. The simple fact is that issues left unresolved by the present administration may become agenda items for the next administration, and it is unclear whether the environment will improve for injured workers in January. We must therefore make judgments on a case-by-case basis whether we are likely to achieve a better result with an administration we know now, or with one we have yet to meet. As a result, we will have to keep all of our options open, including opposition, negotiation, compromise, and (if indicated) support for any given initiative.

In addition to the upcoming elections, some of the administrative issues that require our attention include

  • the MAP program (which the WCB continues to pursue in various incarnations)
  • the Medical Treatment Guidelines,
  • the absence of Medical Impairment / Loss of Wage Earning Capacity Guidelines,
  • the nominations of Ed Vargas and Charo Ezdrin as WCB Commissioners.

What the WCA Will Do For YOU.
The WCA Board will be meeting on a regular basis to discuss these and other developments and to take public positions in defense of our clients and our practices. We promise to provide regular updates to the IWBA membership about issues that come to our attention, what steps we have taken, and why. Look for our emails and for new posts on the WCA web site.

How Can You Help the WCA?
Our ability to advance our mutual cause depends largely on the strength and unity of our membership. In the political arena, our strength will be judged by the size of our treasury and the volume of our voice. If we are to have an influence between now and the November elections, we must raise funds and we must do so quickly.

Renew Your WCA Membership – Or Join the WCA.
I am attaching an application for WCA membership to this email. I hope that you will join (or in many cases re-join) the WCA. In the coming weeks, we will be revamping our web site to include current information and to list our Directors, Sponsors and Supporters. We hope that as many of you as possible will choose to become Directors and to participate in crafting and executing the WCA’s message and strategy as part of our Board.

Whether you join us as a Director or just a Member, we welcome your ideas, comments, and active participation. We believe that the WCA, while carrying out the function of a political action committee, should reflect the will of its members, who also comprise the membership of the IWBA.

Please take a few moments to complete the attached membership application and to return it with your donation or pledge.

Very truly yours,
Robert E. Grey

www.nyworkerscompensationalliance.org/WCA%20Memb%20App%202.pdf

Workers’ Compensation Alliance Board of Directors

Members of the Board of Directors are currently:

Chair - Robert Grey
Treasurer - Ronald Balter
John Sciortino
Erin McCabe
Victor Pasternack
Donald Shouldice
Brian Mittman
Alex Rosado
Thomas Lambert
Louis Dauerer
James Buckley
Robert Helbock
Greg Connors