Making the Most of Change

Seize the Opportunities. That was the theme of the 2013 United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) Leadership Conference.  UTLA President Warren Fletcher sees the “improved economic picture” as one avenue for preventing the “current educational reality”—large class sizes, closed libraries, non-existent art and music programs, a lack of nurses, counselors and psychologists—to become the “new normal.”  In addition, the breadth of hands-on experience that many members of the School Board possess will enable them to bring classroom perspectives to the Board’s decisions.

Combine the fiscal outlook and the experiential foundation, and the following goals seem attainable to UTLA: 

  • Smaller class sizes
  • Full staffing
  • Safe schools
  • Authentic assessments
  • Academic freedom

Attorneys from Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP (GEK) wove this same thread of  seizing opportunities into their conference workshop entitled  “Workers’ Compensation Reform 2013—Here We Go Again.” Making lemonade out of what many consider a lemon—Senate Bill (SB) 863—was the main focus of the discussion.

“We examined the good, the bad and the ugly of SB 863, and how this latest ‘reform’ legislation affects teachers,” says GEK attorney David Goldstein. “The ‘ugly’ parts of the bill revolve around medical treatment, denial of care, strict timelines that must be followed, etc. It’s not pretty.

“But, just as we did in 2004 with the ‘reform’ enacted by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, we at GEK are working diligently to minimize the challenges inherent in the latest bill.”

This is nothing new, however, when it comes to Workers’ Compensation. GEK attorney Larry Goldstein brought this point home as he opened the workshop with a history lesson about Workers’ Compensation, starting  in 1963. He explains, “In the beginning, all questions of fact of law were ‘liberally interpreted,’ and any doubts were resolved in the employee’s favor. But as the years progressed, the tides changed—in major ways in 1993, 2004 and now in 2013 with SB 863. Legislation in the past couple decades has definitely not been kind to injured workers.” 

SB 863 just went into effect on January 1, 2013, and as of July 1, 2013, it impacts all Workers’ Compensation cases, regardless of date of injury. “The law is still very new, so we are still learning about its full impact,” says David Goldstein. “One thing is clear, however; obtaining medical treatment for on-the-job injuries is no simple matter. You can’t do it alone. We’re here to help.”



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