Western Growers Endorse Accountability Act
Western Growers' board of directors unanimously voted to endorse the Workers' Compensation Reform and Accountability Act, the proposed workers' compensation initiative.
The California/Arizona association will target fraud and abuse. The Act will also guarantee fair compensation for verifiable injuries, place qualifed doctors in charge of treatment, base treatment decisions on facts and evidence and balances the rights of injured workers with the interests of their employers.
The 45-member board represents about 3,000 employers. They are the largest producers of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts in the United States.
For the past two years, Western Growers' members have ranked reforming the workers' compensation system as their number one concern.
"The fresh produce industry has been particularly damaged by the current system. Our state's farmers cannot simply pick up their land and move to another state. Reform is critical to the continued health of four industry and the states's economy," said Tom Nassif, presdient and CEO of Western Growers.
"Our first choice is that the legislature fix the problem, but if the legislature fails to do its job, we are left with no other choice than to actively participate in the initiative process."
The cost for workers' compensation has risen 136 percent in the last four years, with some companies experiencing 300 percent increases. California employers pay the highest workers' compensation costs in the nation, with an average of $6.33 of every $100 payroll vs. the national average of $2.62.
The group is now distributing petitions in support of the initiative. They are due in the Secretary of State's office April 16.
Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose 3,000 members grow, pack and ship 90 percent of the fresh vegetables and nearly 70 percent of the fresh fruit and nuts grown in Arizona and California, about one-half of the nation's fresh produce.
For more information on the propsoed initiative visit www.reformworkerscomp.com.