My Questions Concerning TandaPay and Workers’ Compensation insurance
I want to collaborate with an expert to see if TandaPay can help workers gain bargaining power
This is a follow up to a previous post which outlined how TandaPay can be used as a tool for social reform. TandaPay is a new type of software that allows communities to self-insure to provide policyholders with supplemental coverage. The specifics of how it does this is described in this post where I break down how group coverage works. If attempts to unionize workers have proved to be unsuccessful then this blog post provides details as to the protections TandaPay can provide them. TandaPay can provide modest supplemental benefits to non-union workers through the app. This post addresses those who care about workers’ rights and the professionals who use the legal system to protect these rights. The software can be useful for providing supplemental coverage, but without providing the appropriate legal framework, the software may not protect the rights of workers who use TandaPay in all circumstances. This is why I need your help.
What I am looking for
Someone who understands workers’ compensation insurance, unionization, and the struggles workers face when attempting to organize a union at factories such as Tesla’s. Someone who knows about the type of organizations which assist in helping workers to organize. Someone who can make introductions to organizations such as the DSA to see if TandaPay may be a useful tool for its members.
From a legal perspective I need someone who can help create a definition of TandaPay that is fully protected by the first amendment. I need someone who can prove that TandaPay is a valid legal record of workers’ compensation claims admissible as evidence in a court of law. I need someone who can help me navigate the complex legal requirements and penalties imposed by employers upon workers as it relates to workplace injuries. I need someone who can create a method by which legal penalties which would suppress a worker’s free speech, as it relates to their workplace injuries, could be circumvented.
Finally I need a legal framework for adding an offensive option to TandaPay. If an employer becomes hostile to protecting the safety of its workers TandaPay can transform from a supplemental coverage fund to a legal defense fund. This is already possible in the software’s architecture but needs an additional legal framework of using funds once they leave the software. Preventable workplace injuries must be eliminated and if employers are unwilling to make changes, workers must have the tools to force them to change.
What I would like to do
I want to remove the perverse incentives which prevent workers from filing workers’ compensation claims when they are injured. I want to allow workers to approve their own claims for workers compensation coverage without needing to report these claims immediately to employers.
Workers may be penalized by an employer when they file a workers’ compensation claim. They may be placed on light duty with reduced pay or face reduced opportunities for earning a promotion. This might create a conflict where workers feel pressured to underreport claims. If only the most serious claims end up being reported this may result the persistence of unsafe work conditions. If an employer does not feel adequate pressure to make their factories safe for workers then there will be a higher number of injuries which could have been prevented.
Why should we give workers the ability to approve their own claims?
Besides the perverse incentive structure mentioned above, some employers cannot be trusted to correctly record all valid claims. No one is better qualified than the workers themselves to make judgements as to the cause of workplace injuries. By allowing workers to self-insure each other, the following problems with claim reporting could be solved:
- Misclassifying workers comp claims as other types of injuries
- Failing to identify the root cause of workplace injuries
- Failing to make accurate statistics about workplace injuries public record
- Failing to be held accountable to make workplaces safer for workers
- Failing to make the required changes to reduce preventable injuries
Additionally TandaPay can serve to document “near miss” claims where workers have a tool to report unsafe workplace conditions. If used by workers judiciously then an employer may choose to address worker concerns privately before they are made known to the public.
Whistleblowing is ineffective because it is easy to discount information from an anonymous source as being nothing more than a rumor. TandaPay is effective because claims published by a TandaPay group are not fully anonymous, their origin is a policyholder within the group. They are also permanent and cannot later be repudiated. In themselves, if these claims were merely statements, they would have no weight or authority. Just because a statement is published on a blockchain, this doesn’t mean its true.
Blockchains provide people with anonymity similarly to how Reddit allows anyone to post to forums. Anonymous statements do not have any more legitimacy than statements made by Redditors who have no previous history posting to Reddit. Using the Reddit analogy, blockchains can also allow people to build up a type of karma. In TandaPay a statement acquires authority (karma) if it is issued from an established group with a substantial history of premium payments and claim awards. The number of transactions, the value of transactions, and the timestamp of transactions all serve to create a record which establishes a group’s legitimacy.
Any number of members within a TandaPay group can choose to sign a statement without sacrificing their anonymity. This process verifies that a statement was authored by many people without revealing the identities of the persons involved. This type of protection allows anyone who can view the blockchain to know that a statement came from a TandaPay group without exposing individual workers to retribution from their employer. This is why it would be more effective and harder to ignore than the whistleblowing we see today, yet it would still provide some protections to workers similarly to how whistleblowers are protected.
What prompted me to feel passionate about this issue?
Reveal reported in April that Tesla left workers’ compensation injuries off the books in an attempt to lower the reported injury rates of workers at their factories.
One quote made me consider that there are plenty of reasons for workers to underreport valid claims:
Dennis Cruz is on light duty as he struggles with shortness of breath, coughing spells and headaches. But he wants to provide for his family, apply his skills and get promoted.
“I can’t do that on workers’ comp. I can’t do that away from the factory,” he said. “That’s why I push to go back. I push to go back into the fire.”
As far as accurately reporting injuries is concerned Reveal discovered that:
Tesla is required by law to report every work-related injury that results in days away from work. But those injuries were labeled “personal medical” cases, so they weren’t counted when Tesla tallied its injuries on legally mandated reports.
Employees that brought workplace safety issues to Tesla…
One of Tesla’s safety leads Justine White emailed CEO Elon Musk’s chief of staff in 2016. “I know what can keep a person up at night regarding safety,” she wrote. “I must tell you that I can’t sleep here at Tesla.”
were labeled by Tesla as “failures”:
In an interview, Tesla Chief People Officer repeatedly questioned the motives of the former health and safety professionals and suggested they might have been “failing at their own job.”
Even though it was clear that Tesla was not correctly reporting workplace injuries so that it might be forced to make the necessary changes…
White said she asked her supervisor why the injury rate seemed off, and he told her they weren’t counting temp worker injuries.
“They knew they were reporting incorrect numbers,” White said. “Those workers were being injured on the floor and that wasn’t being captured, and they knew that.”
Tesla further demonstrated its unwillingness to protect worker safety by its response to Reveal’s reporting:
A Tesla spokesman sent a statement accusing Reveal of being a tool in an ongoing unionization drive and portraying “a completely false picture of Tesla and what it is actually like to work here.”
“In our view, what they portray as investigative journalism is in fact an ideologically motivated attack by an extremist organization working directly with union supporters to create a calculated disinformation campaign against Tesla,”
How does this make me feel?
Very angry. How can Tesla treat its workers this way? Who will protect these workers? The workers must be given the tools to protect themselves.
What do I intend to do about it?
- Build a team who will build TandaPay as a real working piece of software.
- Make TandaPay free for workers to use so that they can start reporting injuries right away with the goal of making their workplace safer.
- Seek out help from organizations who support workers and help workers to unionize.
- Promote TandaPay as an intermediate option for workers who have yet to form a union.
- Create a means by which the TandaPay record of approved claims can serve as a legal record capable of compelling employers to make workplaces safer for workers.
I grow weary of blockchain technologies being seen as speculative investments to satisfy peoples’ desires to “get rich quick.” If smart contracts on Ethereum can’t make TandaPay a real working tool to serve humanity then what’s the point? I’m willing to burn every speculative penny I’ve ever made if TandaPay could be made real.
Please help me.