Letter from the AGC President: Workers' Comp Initiative

By Tom Zamzow

As you know an initiative (I-1082) has been filed that would allow private carriers to sell workers’ comp insurance in Washington. This is a significant issue for the construction industry and it is also a complex one. Even though the initiative seems straightforward enough – allowing private carriers to compete with the L&I – Washington State’s workers’ comp system is so unlike those in other states that it’s difficult to nail down an apples-to-apples comparison and get a handle on what it really means to our industry our individual businesses and our association.

That is why the AGC Board decided to take a deliberate approach in analyzing the initiative. We’re seeking as much member input as possible before determining whether or not to throw the AGC’s considerable weight behind it. Here’s what has occurred so far:

  • District meetings have been held in Bellingham Seattle Tacoma and Yakima for members to learn more about the initiative ask questions and express their views.
  • Many of AGC’s self-insured members met to discuss issues pertinent to their situations.
  • Members have been encouraged to submit their views in writing and many have done so.
  • AGC’s Retro Committee and Government Affairs Council are reviewing the initiative and will make recommendations to the Board.
  • With the help of private insurers – potential providers of workers’ comp insurance in the state – we provided a webinar shedding more light on what a three-way (private carriers L&I and self-insured) system would look like.
  • We’ve created a Workers’ Comp Initiative webpage on AGC’s website where members (it will be locked for members-only access) can go to learn more about the initiative and provide comments. Notable elements of the website are a “Key Facts about I-1082” section and an “Issues to Consider” section that seeks to tally the economic philosophical and political issues that have been raised by members during discussions of the initiative. We’ll update this site frequently as more information becomes available. Click here to go to that webpage.

Good points have been made on both sides of the issue. Some members have expressed strong opinions and there is universal concern about the efficiency and effectiveness of L&I’s management of the system (to say the least). But I believe the primary message we have heard at all of these meetings is “We need more information.” Over the last several weeks we’ve worked hard to provide additional information. With regard to any position on the initiative ultimately it will be a “gut” call. Some things – definitive premium costs for example – are just not knowable. But I encourage you to arm yourself with information and let us know what you think. Email your thoughts to AGC’s Government Affairs Director Rick Slunaker or call him at 360-352-5000.