When deciding whether to join a union or seek to form a union at your workplace, you might wonder whether being a union member will help you during the workers’ compensation process. Unions provide many advantages to injured members, including assistance during the claims process, help returning to work, and advocacy for change.
Assistance During the Claims Process
Some unions provide injured workers assistance during the workers’ compensation claims process. For instance, the union steward may provide an injured worker with pamphlets and guidance on making a claim or contacting the insurance company. If the employer is not helping the employee obtain medical care or wage loss benefits in a timely fashion, some unions will step in to speed up the process.
Injured workers should consult their collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) for information about work injuries and workers’ compensation claims. Some unions have special processes for reporting injuries or notifying the union and the employer.
Help Returning to Work
Some unions help members return to the workplace after injuries by holding their jobs open while they are on leave. Unions may even be able to help during vocational rehabilitation. When an injured union member is ready to return to work, he may want to speak to the union representative first. The representative may be able to help the worker advocate for any accommodations needed. Of course, if a worker is not getting the help he needs, he should consider speaking to an attorney.
Advocacy for Change
Unions serve as vital advocates for changes in workplace conditions. Sometimes unions organize protests or meetings to fix dangerous health and safety issues faced by union members. Unions also lobby for changes in the laws by contacting local legislators.
In fact, the AFL-CIO negotiated a 2013 bill that, when it passed, made significant changes to the Minnesota workers’ compensation system. The bill increased wage loss benefits available to injured workers to a maximum of 102 percent of the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW). The bill also provides that PTSD diagnosed by a mental health professional is a covered injury for purposes of Minnesota workers’ compensation. The union created significant statewide change for injured workers, including non-union members, through its advocacy.
Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.