Knowing that the Senate Confirmation Advisory Committee has voted 2-1 in favor of the appointment of Thomas R. Carl-son, a former Kennecott Utah Copper superintendent, to the State Industrial Commission, the Senate will vote on the confirmation Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.
With the Senate still firmly controlled by Republicans, most Capitol experts believe Carlson will be confirmed, much to the chagrin of labor leaders, who are opposing Carl-son not because he is a Democrat, but because they believe someone from the "working people" should be appointed.Labor leaders also are upset that Gov. Norman H. Bangerter broke with tradition and didn't appoint one of five people suggested by a Utah State AFL-CIO committee. Ed Mayne, state director of the AFL-CIO, said traditionally when appointments were to be made by the governor someone from the opposition party that Democratic leaders be consulted.
The committee vote came Monday and Sens. Paul Rogers, R-Orem, and Richard B. Tempest, R-Salt Lake, voted for Carlson's appointment. Sen. Frances Farley, D-Salt Lake, found herself in an unusual position of voting against a Democrat but said it was only because she believed one person on the commission should be a "lifelong hands-on worker."
If Carlson's appointment is confirmed, he will join Chairman Stephen H. Hadley and Commissioner John Florez on the three-member commission.
During the Monday hearing, charges were leveled that Carlson's appointment was being rushed through so he could get involved in a case that currently sits in limbo before the commission. Others countered that bringing up that particular case was inappropriate during the confirmation hearing.
Less than a month ago, Florez and former Commissioner Lenice L. Nielsen upheld an administrative law judge's decision that when a person took a workmen's compensation case to the commission attorney fees be paid by the insurance carrier or the employer and not come out of the money the worker received.
After the decision was issued, attorneys for the Workmen's Compensation Fund filed a motion for reconsideration, but in the meantime, Nielsen retired and left the commission in an impasse with Hadley on one side of the issue and Florez on the other side.
At the May 4 commission meeting, the issue of denying or approving the motion for reconsideration arose, but with Nielsen gone, neither Hadley nor Florez could get a majority. Florez denied the motion for himself and Nielsen, since he had voted for the majority, but Hadley voided Florez's order, based on what he perceives is his authority as the chairman, and granted the motion for reconsideration.
With the case almost certainly to be appealed to the Utah Court of Appeals, it sits in limbo now because nobody apparently knows what should be done next, according to Jinks Dabney, an attorney who represents clients before the commission in workmen's compensation cases.
Randy Horiuchi, chairman of the State Democratic Party, said he asked Mayne to convene a committee to make some suggestions for the commission post, because state law requires two members from one political party and the third members member must be an independent or represent another party.
Horiuchi said five people were suggested, but Carlson, even though he is a lifelong Democrat, wasn't on the list, mainly because he has worked in management. "We felt we should have had more input," Horiuchi said.
David Hansen, deputy lieutenant governor, who submitted Carlson's name to the committee on Bangerter's behalf, also read a letter from former Gov. Calvin L. Rampton, favoring Carlson's appointment. Other support came from the Utah Mining Association, Utah Manufacturer's Association, and Dennis Lloyd, an attorney for the Workmen's Compensation Fund.
Blaine Palmer, director of the Workmen's Compensation Fund, said the commission is pretty-well balanced now and the most qualified person should be appointed.
Also opposing Carlson's appointment was Stanley Lou Harrison, Vernal, the injured worker whose case resulted in the 2-1 commission decision on where the attorney fees should come from.
Dabney Hansen sending a letter to the Legislature indicating the appointment to the commission should be considered quickly because of two important issues facing that body, gives a perception that Carlson will vote to rescind the decision.
"I am not attacking his integrity, but he is friend to the insurance industry and an enemy of the working people. His name should be withdrawn by the governor," Dabney said.