Over the past 25 years, the giant meatpacking company has taken a lead in pushing for changes in workers’ comp in state after state — often to the detriment of workers.
ProPublica, Dec. 11, 2015, 10:06 a.m.
States nationwide are dismantling workers’ compensation, slashing benefits to injured workers and making it more difficult for them to get care. Meanwhile employers are paying the lowest rates for workers’ comp insurance since the 1970s.
Billy Shawn Walkup hurt his back working at a Tyson bacon factory in Texas in 2011. Tyson asked him to sign a lawsuit waiver before extending his medical benefits, but later terminated them. (Dylan Hollingsworth for ProPublica)
About five years ago, one of the nation’s largest corporations, Tyson Foods, drew a bullseye on the official who oversaw Iowa’s system for compensating injured workers.
As workers’ compensation commissioner, Chris Godfrey acted as chief judge of the courts that decided workplace injury disputes. He had annoyed Tyson with a string of rulings that, in the company’s view, expanded what employers had to cover, putting a dent in its bottom line. (MORE)
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So when Republican Terry Branstad ran for governor in 2010, vowing to make Iowa more business-friendly, Tyson hosted an event for him at its headquarters and arranged another meeting for him to hear from large companies who were frustrated with the workers’ comp commission.
Within weeks of his victory, Branstad demanded Godfrey’s resignation. When Godfrey refused, the new governor did the harshest thing in his power: He cut Godfrey’s salary by more than 30 percent.