Mike CarriganThe president of Illinois AFL-CIO is throwing cold water on any hope lawmakers had of workers' compensation reform this year.

“We're in no mood, we have no appetite for workers' comp reform,” AFL-CIO President Mike Carrigan said. “We will use our collective resources to vigorously oppose workers' comp changes.” Those 'resources' include labor unions and Illinois' trial lawyers, who all carry considerable weight with the Illinois General Assembly.

Carrigan's pronouncement comes as lawmakers wrap up the spring session, having hoped to find middle ground on workers' compensation reforms.

Gov. Bruce Rauner lists workers compensation reform as one of the must-have components of his Turnaround Agenda.

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Mark Denzler, president of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, said workers' compensation is more than just a political issue. “It costs the state of Illinois more than $100 million a year in workers' compensation. It costs cities, whether it is Chicago or Springfield,” Denzler said. “This is a driver for budgets at the state and local level.”

Carrigan said he's not opposed to all potential changes. He's insisting on an “agreed bill process” which would require lawmakers, unions, business groups, hospitals, doctors and trial lawyers to all agree on any changes.

Critics point out that process could take years. Denzler said Illinois may not have years to wait. “We've lost 300,000 jobs since the year 2000, many of those were union jobs.” Denzler said he doesn't know how many more manufacturing jobs Illinois can afford to lose.


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