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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Book on Workplace Injuries and Diseases dedicated to late director of URI’s Schmidt Labor Research Center

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

KINGSTON, R.I. -- August 24, 2005 -- In March 2004, a workers’ compensation conference was held to honor the memory of Terry L. Thomason, director of the University of Rhode Island’s Schmidt Labor Research Center from the summer of 1999 to his death from cancer in April 2002.

The conference not only presented the latest research on the topic, but it paid tribute to Thomason, an international leader in workers’ compensation and other labor-management issues. Thomason died at his Newport home three years ago.

Now the papers presented at the conference have been compiled in a book—Workplace Injuries and Diseases: Prevention and Compensation, published this year by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“After Terry’s death, we at the Schmidt Labor Research Center wanted to honor him,” said Matthew M. Bodah, associate professor and research coordinator at the center and a co-editor of the book. “Based on his outstanding reputation as a researcher in the field of social insurance, we wanted to hold a national-level conference.

“With the help of Terry’s colleagues, Karen Roberts at Michigan State University and John F. Burton Jr. of Rutgers University, who are leading social insurance scholars as well, we were able to gather the best people from the United States and Canada,” said Bodah a resident of Newport.

The book includes a selected bibliography of Thomason’s publications, and the first chapter is a reprint of a previously published piece by Thomason titled, “Economic Incentives and Workplace Safety.”

“This book provides a really strong overview of workers’ compensation issues,” Bodah said. “It can be a reference for people in business, advanced undergraduate study or graduate schools. The chapters are easily readable.”

Chapter 11, “Workers’ Compensation in Rhode island: Reform through Business/Labor Cooperation,” was written by Matthew Carey, a graduate of the URI graduate program in labor and industrial relations now employed by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.

Other topics include the adequacy of workers compensation cash benefits, partial disability benefits, appeals system reform, health care and workers’ compensation and workers compensation for those suffering from black lung disease.

“This is not a book oriented toward any one group,” Bodah said. “It addresses issues important to workers, employers, the insurance industry, the legal profession and public policymakers,” Bodah said.

In the foreword to the book, Burton wrote “Terry left a legacy in his research and his contributions to his profession, his family and his friends that will persist for decades.”

Burton added that at Thomason’s memorial service, “both Matt Bodah and Barbara Webster described Terry as a gentle spirit, and Les Borden called him a ‘lovely, gentle, person.’ We are all honored to dedicate this volume to his memory.”