June President’s Page

Hello, everyone. I hope you are all well and weathering the COVID-19 storm.

The month of May sure offered its share of challenges and new developments. Those challenges will certainly continue for the immediate future, and even newer developments and challenges can, and should be, anticipated. Meanwhile, claims for workers’ compensation benefits continue to be filed, and employees, their employers and insurance companies continue to find areas of disagreement that require our resolution. Most of us continue to serve the stakeholders in our states, albeit remotely, by telephone conference calls and videoconferencing platforms. Our work continues but it has changed, just as we have changed. June offers signs of a possible beginning of a transition to normalcy, but “normal” after the pandemic will certainly be different than the “normal” before.

On May 12, 2020, we learned that the Workers’ Compensation Institute (WCI), organizer and sponsor of the Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference held each August in Orlando, Florida, had decided to postpone its annual conference (previously scheduled for August 16-20, 2020) until August 22-25, 2021. Postponement of the larger WCI conference necessitated that NAWCJ postpone our annual Judiciary College, held in conjunction with, and as a component of, the Educational Conference. Our annual Judiciary College will be presented August 23-25, 2021.

The annual Judiciary College has been the reason for NAWCJ’s existence. NAWCJ was formed to offer quality continuing judicial education specifically keyed to workers’ compensation adjudicators. Each August, we have gathered in Orlando to partake not only of the excellent educational offerings, but to meet and engage one another, share experiences and insights, and establish lasting bonds of friendship and mutual respect.

NAWCJ has endeavored to expand our educational offerings to include a Spring “Boot Camp” for new (and newer) adjudicators. When our Boot Camp for March 5-6, 2020 in Nashville had to be canceled at the last minute, due to the devastation wrought by an unexpected middle-Tennessee tornado, we all took solace in looking forward to the August Judiciary College, where we would meet, reconnect, and continue to serve the community of workers’ compensation adjudicators. We must now, yet again, defer our educational efforts and the gratification that would certainly have flowed from a quality program well-attended, and well-delivered.

We had an outstanding program developed for this year’s Judiciary College and, even now, we are actively exploring alternative methods of delivering that educational content, without waiting for either the Spring, 2021 Boot Camp or the August, 2021 Judiciary College. Rest assured we will be back next Spring with a great Boot Camp and in August with an even better Judiciary College curriculum. The challenges of 2020 have taught us many new lessons, and informed our awareness as to how much we still have to learn. Those lessons will be reflected in the curricula that we will continue to offer to the community of workers’ compensation adjudicators.

Let’s just hope that June will be nicer to us than March through May have been.  In the meantime, keep after it, support one another, and continue to do the hard work that is our obligation (and privilege) to do.

I leave you with this:

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Be well, and WEAR THE DANG MASK!