By Landis Larson, president, North Dakota AFL-CIO

North Dakota legislators passed an incredibly complex piece of legislation, HB 1207, dealing with very specific legal and medical issues, basically because the insurance industry asked them to. There is no way anyone could really understand the ins and outs of this bill unless you were a lawyer or medical expert. In fact, the only North Dakota lawyers to testify on this bill were against it, with the usual North Dakota business lobby and some out-of-state insurance company lawyers supporting it. Judge Irby even warned in neutral testimony this could clog up the courts. Labor union members, veterans and retirees also all spoke out against this bill.

Unfortunately, the legislators chose to pass it anyway, at the behest of the business lobby. Now workers who were exposed to asbestos on the job have one choice: get screened for asbestos-related lung damage by your doctor and contact an attorney ASAP because this law will go into effect on Aug. 1, because after that filing a claim in civil court for damages from asbestos will be much, much harder here in North Dakota. That's why our unions have come together for an information campaign to let North Dakota workers know their rights are changing very soon. Find out more at

Landis lives in West Fargo, N.D.

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