Senate Committee Targets Cancer Victims With Workers Compensation Bill

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"Protect Missouri Workers" Condemns Missouri Anti-Worker Legislation

I urge the General Assembly to follow Gov. Nixon’s example and prove that the well-being of hard-working Missouri residents is more important than corporations who choose profit over the health and safety of their employees.

Protect Missouri Workers, a workers’ safety advocacy nonprofit organization, is condemning Senate Bill 1, passed today by the Senate Small Business Committee sponsored by Senator Scott Rupp (R). The bill is being touted by business lobbyists as worker’s compensation reform but would actually absolve corporations of their legal responsibility to provide adequate relief to fatally injured workers and their families suffering from terminal cancer.

Under the current Missouri workers compensation law, victims of cancer and other work-related diseases have the right to bring suit against an employer who failed to meet their duty to warn employees. If passed, the bill would eliminate this right and require workers to file a claim through the Missouri workers compensation program instead.

“Senator Rupp’s legislation is a direct assault on the health and safety of Missouri workers and their families,” said Robert Kelley, Coalition Chairman of Protect Missouri Workers. “SB1 gives a free pass to companies who knowingly exposed hard-working Missouri citizens to poisonous toxins.”

In 2012, Governor Nixon vetoed a similar bill citing its intent to minimize the legal rights of workers suffering from serious and deadly occupational diseases.

“That Missouri employers are again trying to resurrect this issue when Gov. Nixon sent a clear message last term is unacceptable,” said Kelley. “Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on misleading reforms that benefit the few, our General Assembly should swiftly dismiss this special interest-driven legislation and focus on the real challenges facing Missouri.”

Senate Bill 1 is a priority for Republican legislative leaders and business groups this session.

The proposed legislation inadequately meets the needs of workers with serious occupational diseases. Many occupational diseases caused by benzene, asbestos and other toxic exposure have limited treatment options, resulting in medical expenses that can easily reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and easily outstrip the maximum compensation allowed by the worker’s compensation program.

“I urge the General Assembly to follow Gov. Nixon’s example and prove that the well-being of hard-working Missouri residents is more important than corporations who choose profit over the health and safety of their employees.” Kelley said.

About Protect Missouri Workers
Protect Missouri Workers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of hard working Missouri residents. It is made up of Missouri workers, their families, doctors and ordinary citizens who stand together in support of severely injured and diseased workers in the chemical, mining and asbestos industries. Learn more at http://www.protectmissouriworkers.org.

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