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Wisconsin, First State To Create Workers' Compensation, Celebrates 100 Year Work Comp Anniversary
By Lonce LaMon - May 9, 2011

On May 3rd, just last Tuesday, the state of Wisconsin celebrated one hundred years of having workers' compensation. 

One hundred years ago on May 3, 1911, Wisconsin Governor Francis E. McGovern signed into law the United States’ first constitutional worker’s compensation law. This ground breaking law passed the Legislature with token opposition: four nay votes recorded in the state Senate and 14 in the Assembly.
 
Employers as well as employees took an active and constructive part in submitting information and observations to the legislature, and the legislature itself discharged its duties with both common sense and dispatch. In its 1911 report on worker’s compensation, the Wisconsin Industrial Insurance Committee appointed by the 1909 legislature stated that the objectives of the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Act were to:
 
1) Furnish certain, prompt and reasonable compensation to the injured employee.
2) Utilize for injured employees a large portion of the great amount of money wasted under the present (liability) system.
3) Provide a tribunal where disputes between employer and employee in regard to compensation may be settled promptly, cheaply and summarily.
4) Provide means of minimizing the number of accidents in industrial pursuits.
 
Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Manny Perez joined business and labor leaders on May 3rd to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation, First in the Nation, at Alliant Energy.
 
Secretary Perez was amongst a number of speakers, business and labor leaders, representing a partnership that has made the program a success and model to other states for 100 years. As part of the event, Perez recognized Alliant Energy for its outstanding commitment to workplace safety.
 
Other speakers included James Buchen, Vice President of Government Relations for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce; Ron Kent, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (ret.), and Bernard L. Rosauer, President, Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau (WCRB).
 
 

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