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December 20, 2021

50th Anniversary of Report of National Commission Plans in the Works

By James M. Gallen, Evans & Dixon, LLC

On July 31, 1972, roughly fifty years after the first state workers’ comp laws were passed, the National Commission on State Workmen’s Compensation Laws delivered its report to President Nixon and Congress. The report outlined 84 recommendations, 19 of which were deemed “essential.” The reforms adopted in response to the National Commission’s recommendations have formed the basic structure of the modern workers’ compensation act.   

To commemorate this milestone in the development of Workers’ Compensation in the United States, the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers has established a planning committee to educate compensation professionals as to: the state of workers’ compensation before the formation of the Commission; the efforts to reach consensus among the diverse members of the Commission; and the immediate, midterm, and long-term effects of the Recommendations as adopted by the various state and federal jurisdictions. The committee also views this anniversary as a prime opportunity for all stakeholders involved in various aspects of this unique area of the law to re-examine how further change may be necessary to accomplish the Commission’s goals of providing an adequate, prompt and equitable system of compensation. 

Composed of representatives of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, the ABA, The National Academy of Social Insurance, the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions, WILG, the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs at the U.S. Department of Labor , California Division of Occupational Safety and Health and a collection of distinguished scholars, the Planning Committee is fortunate to have the active participation of Prof. John Burton, Jr. who served as chairman of the National Commission.

Steps are being taken to record a series of interviews that will preserve the history of the Commission and will be available to interested parties.  The National Commission will be a topic featured at the ABA TTIPS Mid-Winter Seminar in New Orleans on March 4-5, 2022 and at the Installation Dinner of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers the evening of March 5 at which Prof. Burton is scheduled to be the featured speaker.  The National Commission and its aftermath will also be explored at the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Agency Conference and at the Pennsylvania State Bar Association CLE, both in 2022.  The planning committee is currently exploring opportunities with academic institutions and local bar associations.  It looks forward to cooperating with other organizations in the field desiring to note the anniversary in their own programs.  Anyone desiring to coordinate their commemorations with the planning committee, please contact a member of the committee:

Prof. John F. Burton, Jr.
[email protected]

Prof. Les Boden
(Boston University School of Public Health)
[email protected]

Prof. Michael Duff
(University of Wyoming)
[email protected]

James M. Gallen
[email protected]

Hon. Christopher Godfrey
[email protected]

Alan S. Pierce
[email protected]

Glenn Shor
[email protected]

Prof. Emily Spieler
(Northeastern University School of Law)
[email protected]

Hon. David Torrey
(WC Judge PA Dept. of Labor & Industry
[email protected]

Elaine Weiss (NASI)
[email protected]

Jennifer Wolf (IAIABC)
[email protected]

About the Author

James M. Gallen is a Member of the law firm of Evans & Dixon, LLC in St. Louis, Missouri. His practice has been focused on workers’ compensation defense for over 40 years, and he is on the Board of Governors of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers.

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