Progresso To Close Plant In Vineland, NJ-Measures Made To Protect Workers

General Mills announced recently that its Vineland, New jersey location will be closing by the summer of next year. The General Mills/Progresso Plant closure is going to greatly effect the Vineland area-close to 400 jobs will be lost in an already stricken by high unemployment. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 152, a union that represents the plant, has made sure workers effected by this will be protected. Severance packages have been agreed upon between General Mills executives and union members. “The severance packages include improved pension accruals and a stipulation that General Mills/Progresso will continue to contribute to the workers’ health care trust fund after the plant closes at the end of summer 2017. 
Local 152 represents 270 of the 370 workers at the plant.”, states an article from Laborpress.org. Several sources assure workers that this was not a result of labor costs, but instead was a result of relocating the plant. “We never believed this was a decision made on labor costs,” String said. “And based on numbers we’ve seen, again, I believe that now.”, String says in another article posted in TheDailyJournal.com. The Local 152 is also taking further measures to help its workers, such as setting up job fairs and looking for potential businesses to by the plant.

Please see the links below for sources and more information.

UFCW Negotiates Progresso Plant Closure
Progresso Facility Officially Leaving Vineland, Taking 370 Jobs With It
It’s Official: Vineland Progresso Plant to Close Next Summer

Frequency of Workers Compensation Claims Decline While the Severity Increases

According to Insurance Business America, over the past ten years the number of workers’ compensation claims is decreasing, but the severity of the injuries reported is increasing. Milliman and Keenan Healthcare analyzed workers’ compensation data and compiled a report showing frequency, severity, and medical and indemnity costs. They considered how reforms may affect the numbers as well. One of the main findings was that losses per $100 of payroll was stable between 2004 and 2014, but during roughly the same time period, the severity of claims increased by approximately 5.5 percent annually. There are ongoing efforts to not only reduce the number of claims, but also the severity.

Additionally, the report showed that from 2013 to 2014, estimated costs per indemnity claim decreased by about 10 percent. In fact, the study showed that younger workers tend to spend more in medical care as compared to other costs, while older workers have larger indemnity losses with about 20 to 25 percent of claims ending up in litigation. Employees between the ages of 36 to 55 approximated more than 50 percent of the indemnity claims paid. Data also showed that the severity of indemnity claims increases with age, and the likelihood of an incident resulting in an indemnity payment rises as well.

In order to remedy the frequency and severity of claims, there is an ongoing effort to improve workplace safety. For example, Workers Compensation reported that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a final rule on the requirements for personal protective equipment, which takes effect on April 25, 2016. The new rules dictate that more modern and improved eye and face protection should be used in the fields of longshoring, construction, marine and shipyard industries, and other general industries. Multiple outdated devices, as old as 1968 versions, were deleted and replaced with current acceptable standards.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, a skillful workers’ compensation attorney can better guide you on how best to file claims. An attorney can help protect your rights and help preserve your coverage. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

When Volunteer Firefighters and Ambulance Workers Get Injured

Many municipalities in New York State have volunteer firefighters and/or ambulance workers. The communities appreciate the dedication and passion the volunteers show, and the legislature has acknowledged those that are injured in the line of duty by passing laws to protect their rights. The Volunteer Firefighters’ Law was enacted in 1957, and the Volunteer Ambulance Workers’ Law came much later in 1989. These laws allow for medical care and cash benefits to be awarded to the volunteers injured on the job, unless the injury was caused by intoxication or if the claimant was intentionally hurting oneself or another.

Receiving benefits can be challenging because of the deadlines, hearings, and appeals process. Seeking the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney could make the difference in whether an injured volunteer is properly compensated or not.

One of the challenges is determining whether the injury occurred “in the line of duty.” Some situations are easily identified—such as responding to a 911 call or during training. Other injuries, such as an illness caused by smoke or chemicals exposed to when volunteering, can require a more skilled analysis to determine whether it falls within the statutory guidelines.

Another fact-intensive analysis involved is in calculating the claimant’s earning capacity. Each claimant is analyzed on an individual basis because there is no standard salary associated with the volunteer firefighter and ambulance services. Age, education, training, and experience are all factors to be considered, even if the volunteer is unemployed at the time of injury.

The New York State Compensation Board may hold hearings to weigh evidence and whether the claim is compensable. A workers’ compensation law judge presides over the hearing. After the judge’s decision, both parties have 30 days to appeal the judge’s finding, and if granted, the claim will go before a panel of three board members. If the panel does not come to a unanimous decision, a party may request a full board review as a last resort.

Retaining an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help guide you through the workers’ compensation claims process. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

New York State Comptroller Announces Decrease in Pension Contribution Rates

The New York State Comptroller recently announced that the contribution rates paid by state and local governments towards New York’s pension funds will decrease.

According to the Comptroller’s office the average rate of contribution will decrease to 18.2% for most public workers from 20.1%, the comptroller said. For police and firefighters, the employer rate will drop to 24.7% of payroll from 27.6%.

The decrease in contribution rates is expected to have immediate impact on local governments outside New York City. In New York City, pension contributions will likely remain the same thanks to the city’s separate pension system. In recent years, localities and school districts have faced increases in their pension cost burden, partly due to the projected costs from a boom in retirees. Now, however, the rate reduction announcement comes as the state’s main pension fund reached a record high of $180.7 billion.

Thus, according to State Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli, the healthy state of the fund means local taxpayers won’t have to contribute as much. This is due in part to recent investment gains, which has increased the state’s pension fund to 92.2% from 88.7%.

Though New York’s pension fund is regarded as one of the best-funded in the country, opponents question the fund’s long term outlook. Indeed, skeptics argue that the fund assets, being largely comprised of various investments, presents a high risk for a high reward.

For additional information about state pension information and how it may affect you, please visit the state comptroller’s website. Additionally, if you or a loved one have any questions regarding your workers benefits, social security, or disability benefits contact our experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

Congressional Candidate in Long-running Dispute Over Worker’s Comp

A campaign worker on Republican congressional candidate Matt Doheny’s 2010 and 2012 campaigns alleges Doheny “is stalling” the hearing of a disputed workers compensation claim, related with injuries she received in a February 2012 motor vehicle accident while traveling to a campaign event.

Alicia E. Sirk, who was Doheny’s deputy campaign manager, said she continues to have chronic pain from back, neck and arm injuries she received when her vehicle fishtailed and flipped over on an icy road when she was en route from Plattsburgh to Cape Vincent to coordinate a morning “Doughnuts with Doheny” event. Mrs. Sirk continued working for the Doheny campaign until the summer of 2012, but maintains that her injuries left her unable to perform full-time work since then.

The case centers around whether Sirk was an employee or an independent contractor. An administrative law judge in a separate Department of Labor Hearing determined in March 2013 that Sirk was an employee, and Sirk and the campaign reached a compromise settlement on back wages.

Under the Workers’ Compensation Law (WCL), most individuals providing services to a for-profit business will be deemed an employee of that business and therefore must be covered by the employer for workers’ compensation insurance. This applies unless those services are specifically excluded as employment under the WCL. For workers’ compensation insurance purposes, the term employee generally includes day labor, leased employees, borrowed employees, part-time employees, unpaid volunteers (including family members) and most subcontractors. Additionally, if you are in a car accident while driving or riding in a car for work-related reasons away from your workplace, in New York State, you may also be covered by workers compensation.

David M. Catalfamo, a spokesman for Mr. Doheny, said Mrs. Sirk was fired in July 2012 and has brought several legal actions against the campaign in the ensuing years, including a wage and labor dispute that Mr. Doheny settled. He characterized the recent claim as an attempt to derail Mr. Doheny’s current campaign and connected Mrs. Sirk with Mr. Doheny’s 2014 primary opponent, Elise M. Stefanik.

Although the outcome of this case is unclear, one thing is for sure, if you are an employee, you have right a to worker’s compensation if injured while on the job. If you believe that your employer has purposefully misclassified your employment status to avoid worker’s compensation, or if you are an employee and have a worker’s compensation claim, contact an experienced attorney. A skilled employment attorney will afford you the representation you deserve and ensure your legal rights are protected.

The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.