By James M. Gallen
Evans & Dixon
St. Louis, Missouri


NAWCJ members administer state workers’ compensation laws that have been influenced, to varying degrees, by the Report of the National Commission on State Workmen’s Compensation Laws.   Since July 31, 1972, when Chairman John Burton Jr. presented its report to President Nixon and the Congress, the Commission’s 84 recommendations, 19 of which were deemed essential, have formed the framework of the modern workers’ compensation system.  Having commemorated the Centenary of the early enactment of state workers’ compensation a few years ago, the Commission can be seen as a midpoint in the Workers’ Compensation experiment. The Fiftieth Anniversary provides an excellent opportunity for stakeholders to measure progress to date and chart paths into the future.

In anticipation of the Fiftieth Anniversary, a Planning Commission was formed to encourage and facilitate commemorative events.  The committee consists of: Chair James M. Gallen, Evans & Dixon, L.L.C., St. Louis, Missouri; Alan Pierce, Pierce, Pierce & Napolitano, Salem, Massachusetts; John H. Burton Jr, Commission Chairman; Judge David Torrey, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Les Boden, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts; Michael Duff, University of Wyoming School of Law; Christopher Godfrey, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, Washington, D.C.;  Heather Lore, IAIABC, Knoxville, Tennessee; Emily Speiler, Northeastern University School of Law. Boston, Massachusetts; Elaine Weiss, National Academy of Social Insurance; Jennifer Wolf, Minnesota Workers Compensation Insurers Association, Inc., Minneapolis Minnesota; Glenn Shor, Cal-OSHA, Oakland, California.

In cooperation with the Planning Committee and the IAIABC, Alan Pierce and Jennifer Wolf, recorded an interview of Prof. Burton during which he provided insights into the origins, workings and outcomes of the Commission.  This interview, or segments thereof, are available for use by organizations hosting programs featuring the Fiftieth Anniversary.

The initiatives of the Planning Committee have been enthusiastically received.  The year got off to a great start with John Burton’s January address to the Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Social Insurance in Washington, D. C.  The momentum continued at the ABA TIPS Midwinter Seminar in New Orleans on March 4-5.  The Seminar began with a panel of moderated by James M. Gallen om which David B. Menchetti of Cullen, Haskins, Nicholson & Menchetti, Chicago, Illinois and Eddie Walker of Walker Law Group, Fort Smith, Arkansas contrasted the divergent experiences of their states in response to the Commission’s recommendations.  On March 5 John Burton delivered pre-recorded remarks to the Induction Dinner of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers.

In addition to those that have already occurred, there is a robust and expanding list of future events.

  1. Workers’ Compensation Research Institute will have a panel discussion at its Annual Conference in Boston March 17, featuring John Ruser of WCRI, Bruce Wood of WorkCompWorks and Fellows Judge David Langham of Florida and Alan Pierce, claimant attorney of Salem, Massachusetts.
  2. Glenn Shor of CalOSHA will lead a session on the Fiftieth Anniversary, including Fellow member Anthony Macauley of Los Angeles, at the annual conference of the California Division of Workers’ Compensation in late March.
  3. April 23: John Ruser of WCRI, and Fellows Alan Pierce and Paul Sighinolfi of Ametros will discuss WC’s past and future at the WILG spring conference in Washington, DC.
  4. April 26: Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge David Torrey will be presenting on the Fiftieth anniversary at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Workers’ Compensation Professionals in Sarasota, Florida.
  5. The U. S. Department of Labor is looking forward to an event in mid-July at its location in Washington DC.
  6. In August, Alan Pierce will be speaking before the 2022 Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference in in Murfreesboro.
  7. August 21-24 Workers’ Compensation Institute in Orlando will have a panel or two on the Fiftieth
  8. IAIABC anticipates a panel at its convention in Scottsdale Arizona in September.
  9. Under the guidance of Prof. Michael Duff, Saint Louis School of Law will be organizing a program during the Fall semester.
  10. In November, The Annual Workers Compensation Conference for Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education in Boston will feature a panel.

Several additional state workers’ compensation seminars and other organizations are considering the possibility of including an Anniversary commemoration in their programs.

Representatives of organizations desiring to commemorate the Anniversary of the National Commission Report in their programs are encouraged to contact Planning Committee Chair, James M. Gallen, or Alan Pierce,, to explore ways that the Committee can assist in making your program a success.