John Bradley, D-Marion, who sponsored the workers'
compensation legislation, described the 12 new board appointees as
the start of a bloodletting prescribed by the General Assembly to
heal the system.
"I'm glad to see the governor appoint so many new
faces and hope they will be able to implement not only the letter of
the law but also the spirit of the law, which is to shake the system
up and basically reinvent workers' comp," Bradley said.
Gov. Pat Quinn announced the appointees on Wednesday. They
include a mix of workers' compensation attorneys, labor union
representatives and members of the business community.
Board members are expected to recommend workers' compensation
case arbitrators, who decide claims and help guide the direction of
workers' compensation policy in Illinois.
"Each of these appointees brings the knowledge and experience to
support us in reforming Illinois' workers' compensation system,"
Quinn said. "Our efforts to overhaul and modernize workers'
compensation are critical to improving our state's business
The legislature took up the task of revamping how the state
handles injured workers after reports surfaced about possible gaming
of the system, most notably in the southern Illinois Menard
Correctional Center, where an excess of carpal tunnel and other
cases were reported.
Lawmakers and members of the business community said the overhaul
will save employers at least $500 million. They cite a 30 percent
cut to compensation rates for doctors treating workers' compensation
cases as the major area of savings.
Other changes include clearing the state's 29 workers'
compensation arbitrators. Current arbitrators can reapply for their
Bradley said he was looking for three traits in Quinn's
appointees: the quality of the appointee, new faces and geographic
"All three (qualities) are represented," Bradley said.
The state Senate, which is expected to return to the Statehouse
in October to address Quinn's vetoes, must approve the new unpaid
Jim Nawrocki, a workers' compensation attorney at Goldberg,
Weisman and Cairo in Chicago, said the scandal in southern Illinois
needed to be addressed, but scrapping the advisory board and
arbitrator positions and starting over from scratch was "throwing
the baby out with the bath water."
"I don't think the system in the long run will be as efficient,
because I think it will be politicized, and I also think that you'll
end up with people who may well not have backgrounds in workers'
compensation, so they won't know what they're doing," Nawrocki said.
Nawrocki and others with similar views might get their way. Five
current arbitrators filed a joint lawsuit in U.S. District Court in
Springfield to keep their jobs. They said they performed their work
competently and their firings were unjustified.
[to top of second column]
Quinn's nominations to the Workers' Compensation Advisory Board
human resources and safety manager at Holten Meat Inc., a
family-owned meat distribution company in Sauget.
Richard Aleksy, a
partner at the Chicago law firm Corti, Aleksy & Castaneda PC,
which specializes in workers' compensation cases. He has served
as president and director of the Workers' Compensation Lawyers
Association, a membership group for Illinois lawyers engaged in
workers' compensation matters.
director and representative for the Painters District Council
No. 30 in Aurora, a union representing people in the finishing
president of the Illinois AFL-CIO labor union. He's been on the
Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission Advisory Board since
senior vice president of public policy for the Chicagoland
Chamber of Commerce in Chicago.
Mark Denzler, vice
president and chief operating officer for the Illinois
Manufacturers' Association, an organization headquartered in Oak
Brook that furthers policy friendly to manufacturers.
vice president of Sears Holdings Management Corp. in Hoffman
Estates, which owns the Sears chain of department stores, among
others, and has threatened to leave Illinois over possibly
expiring tax breaks.
general vice president of the International Association of
Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union, which represents workers
in the machinist and aerospace industries.
William Lowry, an
attorney at the Chicago law firm Nyhan, Bambrick, Kinzie and
Lowry PC, which handles workers' compensation cases.
Mark Prince, an
attorney at the Prince Law Firm in Marion, which specializes in
cases of negligence or intentional misconduct brought by
employees against their employers.
director of governmental affairs for the Laborers' International
Union of North America, which represents workers in the building
and construction trades, among others.
David Vite, president and CEO of the
Chicago-based Illinois Retail Merchants Association, which is a
lobbying group that advances retailers' goals in the
Statehouse News; By ANDREW THOMASON]