9-24-2018; Trying to Make Sense of Nonsense--Incoming Gov Pritzker and What He Means to Our State + IL Work Comp; Minimizing Wage Loss and Line-of-Duty Claims for High-Income/Wage Workers in IL WC

Synopsis: Trying to Make Sense of Nonsense--Incoming IL Gov Pritzker and What He Means to Our State Gov’t + IL Work Comp.


Editor’s comment: I watched a recent debate with current IL Gov. Bruce Rauner and the leading gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker with disgust and dismay. They didn’t truly address our State’s Gigantic 900lb. Pink Gorilla—IL Govt’ Pension system that continues to require more and more of our tax dollars. Unfundable and hilariously unfair IL Gov’t pensions are taking one of every four of your state tax dollars and that relative amount is going to continue to spiral until something is done about it. Right now, all they are doing is raising and raising taxes and looking for new taxes.


As you read this, Illinois has the highest combined income, real estate and sales tax load on Illinois citizens in relation to every other State in the country. What we get for that shocking and increasing tax load are over-staffed, over-compensated and “over-retired” state and local gov’t workers. These workers aggressively politically organize/unionize and vote, vote and vote some more for ever-higher salaries, benefits and unfundable gov’t pensions for themselves. No candidate is truly addressing the gov’t pension issue for fear of alienating and motivating this giant voting bloc. If you want my simple spin on why such gov’t pensions are truly unfundable, send a reply.


Further, no governor candidate is truly addressing this phenomenon other than to hear Gov. Rauner complain about “corruption,” whatever that might mean. Candidate Pritzker can be expected to raise our State income tax rate from the current 4.95% to 7-8%. Mr. Pritzker is not shy to advocate for a constitutional amendment for a “graduated” and regressive income tax to insure we continue to over-tax IL doctors, lawyers, accountants, stock brokers, computer experts and other hard-working professionals. I strongly suggest if candidate Pritzker isn’t happy with the state taxes he pays, he should immediately start donating millions or billions to the State to insure he pays whatever he feels his “fair share” should be. I again predict if we put in an even higher graduated income tax to vex and oppress our best and most talented folks, they are going to move out of this State quickly.


In short, we can be sure higher taxes and fewer jobs are going to impact the IL WC system over the next four years.


Illinois Statewide Minimum Wage Will Almost Double Shortly After Gov Election Goes To Pritzker


Candidate Pritzker is leading the election polls by double-digits and appears to be a lock to win. What are called “Republicans-Against-Winning” have their silly splinter candidate running in a fashion that can only insure he and his silly supporters block Gov Rauner’s efforts to keep his job. It is one of the oddest things about the Republican party in this nutty state. They are almost proud to empower IL State Democrats in a vain effort to maintain their supposed “purity” on one minor issue to which they are eternally devoted. Happy to explain this phenomenon further if you want it—send a reply.


In my seasoned and veteran view, as fast as JB Pritzker wins the election in about five-six weeks, we will see the $15 per hour minimum wage bill hit the IL House and Senate. This new law is going to change the IL WC system in several ways.


First, full-time workers at any level across our state will be making something like $600 a week making their TTD rate about $400 and PPD rate about $360. That is going to cost WC insurers and self-insured employers more money in WC benefits.


Next, this new higher wage is going to drive many companies to automate many jobs. We have already seen McDonald’s put in kiosks to have customers automatically order food and allow them to lay off some workers.


Further, my sister is an exec at a supply company that has minimum wage workers in this state customize and assemble supply orders for shipping to clients. She has advised they are already in the process of moving that work to other states—once moved, those jobs won’t be back. That is going to impact lots and lots of folks and will eventually impact the IL WC system.


Finally, please note any IL WC claim involving pending wage loss differential benefits will need to be re-reserved as the higher minimum wage is certain to lower wage loss outcomes. Please put current wage loss diff settlements on hold for about sixty days. If you want further information or advice on this, send me a reply.


Will the IL WC Commission Dramatically Change?


To me, the expected election of JB Pritzker signals the end of any true ideological or political limit on IL State Democrats. I am told by my sources the jobs of current IL Arbitrators and Commissioners are “safe” and there won’t be a giant turnover of hearing officers. I am sorry and with respect, I don’t believe or trust my sources. IL State Democrats are certain to want to cleanse the IL WC Commission from top to bottom. They may not do so immediately but I have never seen IL State Democrats not “take advantage of their advantage.” They are going to want to reward their supporters and politically connected folks to bask in the money, prestige and loyalty that comes from getting easy and overstaffed State jobs.


Please note the impact of such folks taking IWCC jobs isn’t going to immediately impact us—it takes a couple of years for new hearing officers to have a demonstrable impact. I also feel the inbound Democrat appointees won’t be wacky zealots. But I am sure they are going to want to quietly take care of their cronies and buddies across our State and IL WC benefits are certain to rise. I also feel compensability may take a hit as Democrat theories start to flow in to decisions and settlements.


We are just going to have to wait and see how this plays out. Please send your thoughts and comments or post them on our award-winning blog.



Synopsis: Minimizing Wage Loss Diff and Line-of-Duty Claims for High-Income/Wage Workers in IL Work Comp.


Editor’s comment: I have told you before and I will tell you again. The best way to avoid/minimize wage loss diff claims in the construction and trucking industries along with line-of-duty disability claims for police/firefighters is to move them into 911 Dispatch jobs when and where possible. In IL WC such workers may be entitled to six and seven-figure benefits due to the way our nutty system is set up. In my view, when you see a high wage worker undergo serious shoulder or spinal surgery, start the training for 911 work sooner rather than later.


USA Today reports in today’s edition there are almost 100,000 emergency 911 dispatch jobs in this country and every one of those jobs pays very, very well. There is significant turnover due to the jobs being 24/7/365 work, so there are always openings.


In the greater Chicago area, we have seen starting pay go as high as $80K+ a year with full benefits. These jobs are fully sedentary and therefore perfect for all the trades mentioned above. Please note most police and firefighters are already trained in most of the things an emergency dispatcher has to do and the transition so be smooth.


I don’t understand why it isn’t a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act to put an injured police officer or firefighter that has job restrictions on a line-of-duty disability pension without first training them to do 911 emergency dispatch. As I have said repeatedly, “there oughta be a law.”


Please see this graphic from USA Today:



If you are interested in moving your injured workers into 911 emergency dispatch work and need more advise, please send a reply.


I appreciate your thoughts and comments. Please post them on our award-winning blog.



Synopsis: CALLING ALL CHARITABLE GOLFERS !!!    Sept 29th is your chance to help make a difference in the lives of children with brain cancer.


Editor’s comment:  As many of our clients and fans of the KCBA update are already aware, we work hard to support charities which touch our lives.  Please consider playing in the 3rd Annual Kiss of Hope Open. The Open will be held on September 29th with a 12 noon shotgun at Randall Oaks Golf Course in West Dundee. The day will include many on-course contests, raffle prizes, silent auction AND a helicopter ball drop! KCBA is sponsoring a refreshment cart as well-so come have a refreshment with the Bierys!  Gather your group and click on the link http://ckmc.org/golf2018/ to register to play and make a difference.  


Cancer Kiss My Cooley® is a 501c(3) charitable foundation that was created in memory of a very special boy, Carter Kettner. Carter was the 6 year old son of Joe and Cinnamon Kettner. At age 5, he was diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brainstem glioma on February 17th, 2009. He loved singing, watching movies, and riding his John Deere tractor. His thoughtfulness and appreciation towards others was unfounded. He was a perfect gentleman, and met every girl with a kiss on the lips. His illness didn’t make him the boy he was; cancer was just something that happened to him. He continued to live every day, trusting his mommy and daddy. He loved his crazy little brother Bowen, and he laughed though his antics, calling him a beast and a freak. He loved his hospitals, doctors and nurses, and did everything that was ever asked of him. Carter was perfection in a son. He was indeed, the meaning of HOPE.  Carter passed away 15 months into his journey (on Shawn Biery’s birthday) and after living through this terrible journey and receiving an outpouring of support, the Kettner’s decided that other families living with cancer should share in similar blessings. So, in December 2010, Carter’s parents came together with an extraordinary group of individuals who were always dubbed “Carter’s Crew”. They incorporated together to form cancer kiss my cooley. CKMC® was named after a phrase that Carter used to say when receiving treatment. We called his backside his “cooley”, which is Italian slang for “rear end”. He would sing “cancer kiss my cooley!” pointing to his backside. Since Carter’s passing and this new idea, the phrase has taken on new meaning. We want to show families that they can also tell cancer to “kiss it”! Live your lives with cancer; fight, yes – but live; make memories, and keep HOPE. So indeed, the Kettner journey did not end; it will continue on.


So please consider taking some time to spend September 29th making a difference at Randall Oaks Golf Course in West Dundee. Click on the link http://ckmc.org/golf2018/  to register to play or contact Shawn Biery at sbiery@keefe-law.com for more details.