PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Garden State will celebrate one hundred years of worker’s compensation during a sold out gala at the Forest Gate Country Club May seventeenth in Monroe, New Jersey.
The history of worker’s comp unfolded first in the Garden State.
When New Jersey was becoming an industrial economy in 1911 there were no medical benefits or compensation for workplace injuries. And no help for families after a workplace related death.
The Director and Chief Judge of New Jersey’s Division of Worker’s Compensation Judge Peter Calderone says along came Governor Woodrow Wilson with this groundbreaking idea.
“New Jersey had the first enacted continuing worker’s compensation statute. It was signed by Governor Woodrow Wilson on April 14th, 1911. And it really is a model for the rest of the country,” Calderone says.
The statute has been strengthened over the years. “We also include not just accidents but now occupational disabilities such as workplace cancers and carpal tunnel.”
It’s a safety net that has stretched, after one hundred years to cover four million men and women who work in New Jersey.
It’s also a monument to the legal pioneers of this field.
One of them was the late father of legendary entertainer and native son Joe Piscopo, who will perform at the centennial gala in honor of Pasquale Giuseppe Piscopo, who chose this field of law because he had a feel for the common man.
“I saw my father in court as a kid. I would watch him fight for the workers of New Jersey,” describes Piscopo.
Like the man who approached Joe at a family First Communion years ago, “he was a truck driver. He got hurt, he needed money and my father was the one who stepped up for him.”
But Pasquale Giuseppe Piscopo wasn’t all business.
“Judges and lawyers remember all the jokes he would tell- one after another,” Piscopo adds.
Well, the apple didn’t fall far from that Piscopo tree.
Reported By Cheryl Elias, KYW Newsradio.