In one of the most comprehensive and illuminating writings tracing the struggle for protecting workers from the losses caused by occupational injury, Professor Emily Speiler’s recent work is epic. See it here.

The importance of mentioning this today? Efforts assailing access to a traditional safety net program–and once inside the program, restricted coverage–are continuous. The next wave of changes adverse to the injured and their families could be to carve out classes of employment, required mandatory arbitration, and elimination of programs to employer controlled, opt out of state systems.

Labor organizations and lawyers actively protecting your rights through state organizations (KTLA, MATA) and national organizations (WILG) stand at the door, often as the only ones looking out for our vulnerable injured and disabled. Our lawyers are active participants in each of those organizations, helped form WILG, and two have served as president. Others have or are serving as officers and directors of MATA.

The choice of a lawyer is an important one, as you may see from time to time in television lawyer ads. That decision should not be influenced by the glitz or glamour of them. We believe it is every bit as important to ask any attorney–“What is it that you have done in your career in service to those who aren’t paying you and who will never know your name? What have you accomplished in preserving the rights of the injured, in contributing to positive change through litigation and political effort, and in being on the front lines of those efforts to protect those who bear the costs of injury and death?”

Professor Speiler’s article illustrates how the struggle evolved between adequacy of protection and benefit, to a focus on cost containment. The shift of focus from that on the worker and family, to employer profits and costs is part of the experience. Where are we headed next? She offers up several thoughts. Be vigilant. At every corner, it’s easy to see the dismantlement of consumer protections and civil rights. What is happening at a national level is and has been happening in Kansas and Missouri. We see a spiraling race to the bottom, and who will carry the burden? Everyone who goes to work, never expecting to be hurt, get sick, or die.