The Employee Relations Council will support efforts to make Louisiana’s workers’ compensation (WC) system more balanced and less costly. It will also remain diligent in protecting the solvency of the state’s unemployment compensation (UC) trust fund to prevent employer UC tax increases. In most other respects, Louisiana’s employment laws are generally viewed as employer-friendly when compared to other states. Unfortunately, each session, bills are filed to expose employers to lawsuits from their employees and/or restrict employers’ ability to manage their workers efficiently and productively. This year will likely see even more of this sort of legislation, since there is no limit on the number of bills of a general nature that may be filed. LABI will once again be ready to defend against such legislative intrusion in the workplace.
LABI Position: Support legislation to strengthen Louisiana’s WC law, and oppose legislation that would expand WC coverage and increase costs to employers. Support legislation that makes Louisiana’s WC system not only balanced and equitable but also one which is competitive with other states and encourages a quicker return to work for injured employees. To this end, LABI will:
• Work to pass and implement a competitive pharmacy formulary that is based on medical evidence, and is designed to provide necessary medication to injured workers in a timely manner to prevent unnecessary drug prescribing and dispensing;
• Support legislation to provide for quality and appropriate medical treatment and ancillary services, including legislation to defend and enhance the proper utilization of the Medical Treatment Schedule and to apply correct limitations and standards for the appeal process connected with review of medical director’s decisions;
• Defend the exclusive remedy and statutory employer provisions of the WC law;
• Promote prosecution of the crime of WC fraud and protect employers’ ability to defeat fraudulent claims;
• Advise the employer community of judicial and administrative decisions that destroy the effectiveness of legislated reforms in WC;
• Support efforts to create an efficient and less costly WC market by encouraging continued growth and increased competition within the voluntary market;
• Amend, as needed, the WC confidentiality rules or laws to provide reasonable provisions governing both the protection and release of WC information and employers’ access to information regarding current and past claims; and
• Support legislation equalizing all WC indemnity benefits to a percentage of after-tax income.
LABI Position: Support any legislative actions necessary and appropriate to safeguard the solvency of the state UC trust fund so as to prevent employer UC tax increases. Support legislation to fine-tune the UC law in Louisiana and eliminate employee and employer abuses. Oppose legislation that would expand UC coverage.
Employer Liability: Support legislation to limit employer liability doctrines, and oppose legislation that would expand employer liability. Support legislation to repair judicially imposed employer liability doctrines established contrary to legislative intent.
Labor Relations: Support legislation to prohibit state and local government interference with employers’ rights and protections as provided under existing federal laws governing labor/management relations. Oppose any state legislation designed to weaken employers’ protections under existing federal laws governing labor/management relations.
Employment Compensation: Support legislation to protect employers’ right to establish employment compensation as they deem appropriate and oppose any erosion of existing rights.
Mandated Employee Benefits: Oppose any statutory intrusion into the area of employee/employer relationships, including but not limited to mandated benefits. Oppose any creation or expansion of government-mandated benefits under employer health plans except when there is a documented, actuarially positive cost/benefit for such mandates. Support state legislation that minimizes any adverse impact of federal health care mandates.
Incumbent Worker Training Program (IWTP): Oppose legislation that would continue funding for the IWTP below the dollar amounts and trust fund trigger points in current law, and enhance business access and greater flexibility in the use of monies for worker training, particularly for small businesses.
Equal Employment Opportunity: Support equal employment opportunity by coordinating existing state and federal antidiscrimination laws, but oppose any legislation that would expand upon existing remedies and protections. Support the repeal of any laws that prohibit or limit employer rights.
Government Contracting: Oppose any unreasonable administrative or legislative action pertaining to labor or employment law that would deny businesses the right to contract with government.
Workforce Development: Support efforts to continuously improve Louisiana’s workforce development system to become market-driven and employer connected by delegating to local workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) decision making and administration relative to training and employment programs while reserving oversight and funding responsibilities to a state commission. Support improved alignment of workforce development across K-12 education, higher education and relevant state boards and agencies, including Louisiana Economic Development and the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
Minimum Wage: Oppose legislation establishing a state minimum wage.
Labor Relations: Support legislation that protects workers and employers from the adverse impacts of alterations or expansions to existing federal laws or regulations governing labor/management relations, especially any changes to weaken the equity of the current government-supervised secret ballot election procedure or replace it with a “card check” system subject to abuse.
Wage Records: Support full implementation of Act 822 of the 2012 regular session, allowing electronic access to wage records.
Noncompetition Agreements: Oppose any erosion of the statutes that protect businesses from unfair competition by allowing them to enter into noncompetition agreements with their employees, and support appropriate legislation to fine-tune such statutes as necessary.
Collective Bargaining: Oppose legislation requiring collective bargaining and/or binding arbitration by any public body.
Right-to-Work: Do everything necessary to maintain Louisiana as a Right-to-Work state, including opposing “agency shop” legislation, which would force non-union employees to pay dues to a union just like its members.
Prevailing Wage: Oppose any attempts by the Legislature to re-enact a prevailing wage law, which would result in the state or local governments – and by extension, taxpayers – paying more for goods and services than is paid by businesses in the private sector.
Employment-at-Will: Support legislation to ensure employment-at-will as a right of all Louisiana employers.
Second Injury Fund: Continue to assess the viability of the Second Injury Fund and support legislation to establish an equitable assessment method for its funding.
Drug-Free Workplace: Support legislation and promote administrative policies that make it easier for employers to maintain a drug-free workplace in Louisiana.
Forum Selection: Support legislation to protect and enhance the freedom to contract with respect to forum selection in the employment relationship.
Employee Leasing: Support legislation to ensure that professional employer organizations/employee-leasing firms do not insulate their clients from their WC and/or UC experience rating, and oppose any erosion of existing statutory protections.
Independent Contractors: Protect the statutory criteria established for determining a worker’s independent contractor status and support the implementation of “fresh start” and “safe harbor” provisions for employers who self-report incidents of employee misclassification.
Jim Patterson serves as Director of the Employee Relations Council. In this capacity, his responsibilities include labor issues, such as workers’ and unemployment compensation.
Director, Employee Relations Council, Workers’ Compensation Task Force & Unemployment Compensation Task Force, LABI
Chair, Employee Relations Council
Spradley and Spradley