Washington AG calls Biden’s effort to eliminate protections for Hanford workers ‘cruel’

Sep 15, 2021, 10:28 AM
A sign is seen as you enter the world's largest environmental cleanup project at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Washington. (Photo by Jeff T. Green/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff T. Green/Getty Images)

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson criticized the Biden administration for a “cruel effort” to continue a Trump administration challenge to Washington’s law strengthening workers’ compensation access for those tending to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

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A state law passed three years ago gives Hanford workers more financial protection if they need medical care that could be the result of their work conditions.

Ferguson says the Trump administration attempted to “gut” the state law and lost two rounds in court. The Biden administration has filed an appeal to keep the case moving forward.

AG Ferguson released the following statement this week:

“The Trump administration attempted to gut Washington’s protections for Hanford workers that get sick on the job — and my legal team beat them twice. We defeated the Trump administration in a federal court in Yakima, and again at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Now the Biden administration is continuing Donald Trump’s cruel effort to eliminate these critical protections for the hardworking men and women at Hanford. President Biden’s Department of Justice recently filed an appeal to the United States Supreme Court — just days after Labor Day, no less.

“I have to believe that President Biden was never consulted on this key decision. As a long-time champion of American workers, President Biden must agree with that Hanford workers should be able to access the benefits they earned, including workers’ compensation.

“This lawsuit angered me when the Trump administration filed it — and it continues to anger me off now that the Biden administration is continuing it. I will continue to fight for the workers at Hanford — and all Washington workers — as I would fight for members of my own family.

“The Biden administration should withdraw their appeal immediately.”

In 2018, the state Legislature passed House Bill 1723, which makes it easier for Hanford workers to access workers’ compensation benefits when they develop illnesses associated with their work. Prior to the change, Hanford workers suffering from an illness related to their job had to prove that it was not caused by something else in their lives.

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Washington AG calls Biden’s effort to eliminate protections for Hanford workers ‘cruel’