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Workers' Compensation Insurance in California: Early 1990s

The issue of the cost of Workers' Compensation insurance surfaces periodically in California, particularly during recessions. Workers' Comp developed in the early 20th century to compensate workers injured in industrial accidents which were widespread at the time. It was supposed to be "no-fault" insurance. California was an early adopter of Workers' Comp, as part of the progressive reforms (initiative, referendum, recall, right to vote for women) after the election of Hiram Johnson as governor in 1910. The system in practice, however, often involves litigation. At the time this clip was made, California paradoxically featured high costs for the insurance and low benefits for seriously injured workers. The paradox was due to a bleeding off of the revenues to compensate relatively minor injuries and questionable claims such as job "stress." As the opening titles point out, the job loss in California in this period was due mainly to the state's recession which reflected a national recession and the loss of aerospace and other military-related jobs when the Cold War ended. Reforming Workers' Comp was a major goal of Governor Pete Wilson, shown briefly in this clip. Workers' Comp resurfaced as an issue after Governor Schwarzenegger was elected in 2003 - also a period of economic sluggishness reflecting in part the dot-com bust.
Length: 03:16


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