I have just returned from the annual WILG Cherry Blossom trip. At this annual event in Washington DC, the WILG Board of Directors has its second meeting of the year and WILG members lobby various U.S. senators and congressman on issues that are important to injured workers throughout the country.
Additionally, this year, we had the second of what will, hopefully, become an annual FECA conference. As many of the judges and adjudicators in the FECA system are located in Washington DC, this seems like an appropriate place and time for their meeting. Hopefully, it will become as well attended as the Longshore Conference in New Orleans.
WILG members met with nearly 40 members of Congress on April 11, discussing issues that are important to our clients. Of course, we can all hope that one day states will take the recommendations of the 1972 National Commission on State Workmen's Compensation Laws seriously and we can reverse the race to the bottom that we see throughout our states. Unfortunately, that is not in the case in the current political climate but we need to keep our message in front of our representatives in case the tide ever turns in our favor.
We had our Longshore and Southeast Regional Conferences in New Orleans at the end of March. Both were well attended. Congratulations go to all of the Conference co-chairs as both Conferences were excellent. One of my defense brethren from Georgia spoke at the Southeast Regional Conference and told me that he was very impressed with the level of discourse and knowledge was shown by the Conference attendees.
We did see the first flare up of Opt Out in a number of years in Arkansas. A state legislator introduced Opt Out legislation near the end of their session. Once we were notified by our Arkansas members, WILG quickly mobilized. Malcolm Crosland, Chair of our Opt Out Task Force, and Bob Burke, the Oklahoma lawyer who got Opt Out to be declared unconstitutional, led the charge. They were both quoted in the Work Comp Central in this article (click here). WILG provided essential research and media outreach to assist in beating this new proposal back.
We also were able to get the support of Professors Emily Spieler from Massachusetts and Michael Duff from Wyoming. Professor Duff wrote about opt out legislation in his blog (click here). The proposed legislation did not move forward in Arkansas thanks to the work of WILG members in Arkansas and their allies. However, we all should be aware that Opt Out is not dead, it is merely dormant and we must be vigilant.
We will be having our first Midwest Regional Conference in Kansas City on April 28-29. Our members in the Midwest asked that a Regional Conference be held and it is anticipated that this will be the first of many. I look forward to seeing our Midwest brethren in Kansas City in the next couple of weeks.
As many of you may know, membership is WILG’s life’s blood. We are stronger together and as evidenced by the recent Opt Out initiative in Arkansas, we are still under attack. We are reinstituting the "Just One" campaign which was initiated a few years ago. If every WILG member could recruit just one new member throughout the upcoming year, our membership would practically double. Please think about which members in your state would be good additions to WILG. We will be moving forward under the leadership of Membership Chair Mack Babcock and Co‑Chair George Townsend. It is increasing our membership that increases our strength in fighting for injured workers throughout the country. If you need assistance with recruiting a member or materials, please don’t hesitate to contact Caitlin@wilg.org.
After the Midwest Regional, things will quiet down for a few weeks as WILG members and their families celebrate graduations throughout the month of May. If any of your children are graduating from their academic institutions, we wish you a heartfelt congratulations on their milestones. If you have any questions for WILG, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or Executive Director Jennifer Comer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for all you do to help WILG.
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Click here to read President Tom Holder's President's Messages
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