Gov. Walker's 2017 budget hurts workers rights laws in that it seeks to eliminate the Wisconsin workers compensation Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC). LIRC is the appeal board that reviews decisions of administrative law judges in workers compensation hearings.
Workers rights laws in the nature of workers' compensation protect both workers and employers across the country for over 100 years. As noted, Texas is the only state with an opt out option. Recently there was a case that shows what can happen to an employer when it is not protected by the workers' compensation exclusive remedy provision.
Workers rights laws including workers' compensation laws were passed to provide a relatively quick and sure remedy for employees hurt on job in the innovative but dangerous employment conditions wrought by the industrial revolution. Employees did not have to prove negligence, just causation. In return, this grand bargain immunized employers from tort liability to employees in almost all contexts. In addition, while worker's compensation benefits offered medical treatment the wage replacement benefits are limited and there is no noneconomic or pain and suffering compensation.
People concerned with Wisconsin workers rights laws are keeping an eye on several workers compensation cases in the Florida supreme court.
Workers rights laws are again under attack in Wisconsin. Most states, including Wisconsin, have prevailing wage laws. Prevailing wage is a minimum wage that must be paid to workers on qualifying publicly funded construction projects. Because public work is awarded to the lowest bidder, the prevailing wage for construction workers on public projects levels the playing field and guarantees quality work. Without a prevailing wage, contractors could reduce wages to reckless levels in an attempt to underbid government work.