Christine Baker has been officially appointed director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) after being appointed acting and chief deputy director back in March. Employers are very happy with the appointment already crediting Baker with taking big steps to introduce efficiencies and crack down on workers’ comp cheats in the underground economy.
Baker's formal appointment as director will require confirmation by the Senate. Prior to moving into the director's office at DIR, Baker ran the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC) since its inception. Under her leadership, the Commission played key roles in the workers’ comp reforms of 2003 and 2004. Baker has been in leadership positions within DIR since 1984 and is very familiar with the workers’ comp and health and safety communities. Employers and labor representatives are throwing their full support behind her.
“An excellent choice of a very highly qualified and respected professional,” says Bill Zachry, risk manager for Safeway.
In her capacity as DIR director, Baker also serves as an ex-officio member of the State Compensation Insurance Fund board of directors.
Baker has echoed the Brown administration’s concern that for there to be benefit increases in the workers’ comp system, there have to be corresponding cuts.
“We very much look forward to working with Christine Baker,” says Mitch Seaman, legislative advocate for the California Labor Federation. “Her dedication and years of experience are matched only by her strong work ethic and competence--we couldn't be happier with the appointment and have no doubt she'll be fantastic.”
Baker recently addressed the Legislature on DIR’s efforts to stamp out the underground economy with particular emphasis on enforcing the law against workers’ comp premium fraud. To conserve resources, she plans to focus on bad employers and hold them accountable before they harm honest employers. Enforcement will be much harder in this difficult economy, but employers are confident in her ability to take on the challenge.
“We are very happy with the permanent appointment,” says Bruce Wick, risk management director for California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors.
Baker tells Workers’ Comp Executive that she hopes “to be totally prepared” for confirmation.