Bills of Note: Worker’s Compensation Council Composition

Last week, the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform held a hearing on a bill that would change the composition of the Worker’s Compensation Council. SB 235/AB 308, authored by Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield) and Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville), would require the proportion of representatives on the Council for organized labor to be the same as the proportion of union members in Wisconsin. The bill provides that there not be less than two organized representative members on the Council. Under current law, the Council includes a total of five employee representatives, without a specified required proportion of union or non-union members.

Several months after a hearing in the Assembly Labor Committee in May, the Senate hearing on the bill took place on Sept. 7. The bill’s authors testified first, Sen. Stroebel arguing that the Council should reflect the diverse workplace experiences of Wisconsin residents and Rep. Spiros arguing that a change in composition would make the Council more effective in making policy changes.

Opposition to the bill, including Wisconsin AFL-CIO and Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, say the composition changes would destabilize the council’s balance between labor and management. Wisconsin Defense Counsel also registered against the bill.

The National Federation of Independent Business, Wisconsin Chapter, also submitted testimony requesting an amendment to require a small business representative on the Council.

As SB 235/AB 308 moves through the legislature, the Worker’s Compensation Council is in the process of drafting and introducing their bill for this session that includes a controversial medical fee schedule.