Among the earliest organized labor victories, labor was in the protection of workers against the financial repercussions of disabling injuries. In Pennsylvania, for example, the Workers’ Compensation Act was passed 100 years ago and was premised on a basic bargain: workers would give up the right to recover sue their employers for negligence in return for limited benefits that were supposed to be paid regardless of fault.
Bill Minnick, a Texas lawyer, is leading the national onslaught against workers’ compensation laws. Arguing that there haven't been major changes in workers’ compensation laws in over a century, which is false, Minnick claims that there is no need for the kinds of protections that once were needed because employers treated employees harshly.
He claims that there is no need for the kinds of protections afforded by workers’ compensation laws because it makes no financial sense for modern employers to abuse their workers in a competitive economic environment.
Minnick seems to be unaware that similar arguments were made by hard-core slave owners before the Civil War, who argued that because of the value of slaves to the plantation economy, slave owners had an incentive to treat their slaves well. For those naive enough to believe that it’s a good idea to gut workers’ compensation insurance, which is financed privately, get ready for substantial tax increases and health insurance premiums as costs are shifted to Medicaid, hospital emergency rooms, welfare and social security.