My regular readers know I don’t much care for the
Bastards Building Industry of Association of Washington (BIAW). My first introduction to the BIAW was their Orwellian initiative to ban state ergonomic rules (“Workers Against Job-Killing Rules” my ass,) which earned them a top spot on my list of political windmills. But now that they have so openly become the power-behind-the-power-behind-the-puppet — subsuming the official Republican Party in their efforts to unseat Governor Gregoire by any means — it looks like my quest may not be so quixotic after all.
Ah yes… The Seattle Times reports today, that Democratic legislators are preparing to tie off a couple of the udders on the government sponsored cash cow the BIAW milks to feed its viciously partisan political operations. [Bill to cut income of political foe]
Here’s how it works:
State law allows businesses to form workers’-compensation pools to share insurance risks. The BIAW, which operates the state’s largest such pool, gets refunds from the state every year its premiums exceed claims.
The BIAW keeps 20 percent of the refunds and gives the rest to members who participate in its workers’-comp pool. The association’s take in 2004 was more than $5 million, half of which went to its 15 local chapters.
Under the legislation introduced this week, House Bill 1070, groups like the BIAW could keep no more than 10 percent of their refunds. In other words, the BIAW’s income would be cut in half.
The BIAW’s is the largest, but there are nearly 60 such workers’-comp pools in the state, covering 16,000 employers. While the BIAW skims the maximum 20% currently allowed by law, many other pools charge less.
There is no doubt that the “retro rebate” program has been a modest success, and the BIAW and others deserve credit for efficiently managing their pools. But the program was intended to reduce claims and save employers money, not as a means of exploiting inefficiencies in the workers’-comp system so as to permanently fund partisan political activities.
The beauty of the Democratic proposal is that it is “win-win”: it is both good policy, and good politics. It sends more of the refund money back to businesses (where it belongs,) who will reinvest it in creating jobs for real people… not just right-wing Republican politicians.
Rep. Cary Condotta of Wenatchee complains that the bill is a “blatant political attack.” Well, duh-uh! But so is the $750,000 of workers’-comp money the BIAW spent on Dino Rossi prior to Nov. 2, and the untold hundreds of thousands they have spent since, running deceptive TV and radio ads, and dedicating their entire staff of 30 employees to sifting through voting records and felons lists.
The BIAW has not been shy about threatening to pass a “right to work” initiative, effectively defunding organized labor, one of the Democratic Party’s most steadfast allies. I suppose the Dems should just sit back and whine “Gee… that’s not fair,” as they watch a government sponsored monopoly be used to fund a relentless effort to turn Washington into a one-party state along the lines of Texas?
“They’re just mad because we compete with them in the political arena,” BIAW spokesman Erin Shannon said.
Yeah… well, that’s not exactly how she phrased it to The Seattle Weekly in the heady days immediately following the Nov. 2 election, when she gloated:
“We are kicking their ass. How many years have we whipped labor?”
At the time, Erin also described the past election as “a big ‘Fuck you!’ to all the liberals out there.” Sounds like somebody may have finally washed her potty-mouth out with soap.
Democratic Senator Karen Keiser of Kent, who works in the off-season as communications director for the Washington State Labor Council, says the BIAW’s abuse of the workers’ comp-system to fuel their political agenda is “flat out corrupt and should be stopped.” She told the Times that she has no doubt the Democrat-controlled Legislature will pass a bill, and that Gregoire would sign it.
I sure hope so. This is political hardball… and if the BIAW insists on crowding the plate, they deserve to get beaned.