Press Release

RELEASE: Nebraska workers, organizations, and senators to present essential worker safety legislation in 2022 session

***For Immediate Release***
Monday, January 31, 2022

Contact: Magdalena Cazarez
Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed
O: (402) 438-8853 ext 119
C: (402) 504-0074

Nebraska workers, organizations, and senators to present essential worker safety legislation in 2022 session

Lincoln, NE — On Monday, January 31, Nebraska workers, community organizations and Senator Adam Morfeld presented Legislative Bill 719, which would better support Nebraskans injured on the job by updating Nebraska’s workers’ compensation rates, further clarifying a worker’s right to choose their own doctor, and improving the availability of translation services in workers’ comp medical exams – together with carryover bill LB 207, introduced by Senator Mike McDonnell, which would fix Nebraska’s long waiting times for workers’ compensation support.

Owen Jauken, Nebraska worker:

“I have been a resident of Nebraska for much of my life, and for over a decade have worked in almost every field of construction and installation. The day before Thanksgiving 2018 for me was just another average day at work, starting with an emergency job repairing a damaged 911 fiber optic line. While exposing the fiber line, the utility trench we were in collapsed, burying and entrapping me. There are no words that can accurately describe what it feels like to be buried alive. For some reason still unknown to me I survived, but tragically, far too many others do not. For injured workers, the pain, hardships, and challenges do not stop once released from the hospital and allowed to return home.

Prior to my incident, I was unfamiliar with the policies and procedures of the work comp system. Following my injuries, I had never felt more abandoned and betrayed by the State that I had devoted my time, blood, and sweat into building, advancing, and maintaining; and by the corporate entities who dictate how and when I can begin to recover along with the means I am permitted to use in the attempt. In its current state, the workers\’ compensation act is outdated and in dire need of attention.

We have all seen, especially now, how valuable and irreplaceable our workforce is. They are the backbone of this state and this country. They build our houses, our businesses, they provide our power and our heat, our lines of communication, our transportation, our security, they ship our food and stock our shelves, they answer that phone call, in our darkest hours when we are in need of rescue and without hesitation, come to our aid many times at their own risk. After their dedication, skill, and devotion, after the long hours, the stress, sometimes being on the job more often than they are at home with their families they have earned the peace of mind that if an incident occurs they will be cared for and not abandoned. Our essential workforce is the most valuable asset we possess and that value does not decrease following a severe injury or disability. individuals and families sacrifice far more than any of us will ever know, most of them without any thanks or recognition. We ALL must strive to never take those sacrifices for granted.\”

Senator Adam Morfeld, District 46:

“A strong workers’ compensation system is important for all Nebraskans. It keeps workplaces safe, supports a healthy and stable workforce, and supports Nebraskans injured on the job in recovering and getting back to work. These bills make sure families can make ends meet after a workplace injury.”

Tonya Ford, Executive Director of United Support & Memorial for Workplace Fatalities:

“Worker’s Compensation was created to be a benefit not a burden to our injured workers/family member victims left behind and ultimately protect the companies from any lawsuits due to negligence. Then we have a responsibility to create an adequate system that helps families in a time that they are in need.

“Workplace incidents are not discriminatory to age, race, religion or occupation and it can affect any individual and family.  Please support this bill in memory of Jesus Manny Armendariz, Melvin Balaban, David Ball, Keith Everett, John Bennett, Raven Cole, Emilo DeLeon, Paul Sliger, my Uncle Bobby and the thousands of other fallen workers. Support it for the thousands and thousands of injured workers each year in Nebraska.”

Nick Grandgenett, Immigrants & Communities Program Staff Attorney at Nebraska Appleseed:

“At Nebraska Appleseed, we’ve spent decades working with Nebraskans who’ve navigated workers’ compensation and have seen, time and time again, how long waiting periods and low compensation rates prevent people from accessing the support systems they need to recover. Through both LB 207 and LB 719, the Legislature has an opportunity to address these issues this year.”

Additional Nebraskans’ experiences with workplace injuries and workers’ compensation are here.

Fact sheets summarizing the bills are here: LB 719 Fact Sheet | LB 207 Fact Sheet

Many Nebraska organizations support updating the state’s workers’ compensation system, including: United Support & Memorial for Workplace Fatalities, ACLU of Nebraska, Centro Hispano (Columbus), Children of Smithfield (Crete), Immigrant Legal Center, Mothers and Others, Justice and Mercy for Immigrants, Nebraska Appleseed, Nebraska State AFL-CIO, Omaha Together One Community, Solidarity with Packing Plant Workers, SOMOSgi (Grand Island), UFCW Local 293, Unity in Action (South Sioux City), and others.


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