December 2021 Newsletter

Silenced No More: New Limits on Muzzling Workers

Worksafe welcomes California’s new ‘Silenced No More’ law, set to become effective Jan. 1, 2022. The law will empower workers to speak out about racism and other forms of harassment and abuse in the workplace even if they sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
Sponsored by Sen. Connie Leyva, SB331 expands on the existing prohibition on NDAs involving situations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sex discrimination. The proposal was sponsored by the California Employment Lawyers Association, Earthseed, and Equal Rights Advocates. Confidentiality and non-disparagement agreements are not allowed as a condition of employment, but many employers still force workers to sign NDAs as part of severance packages.
Celebrating the bill being signed into law, Senator Leyva stated: “California workers should absolutely be able to speak out - if they so wish - when they are a victim of any type of harassment or discrimination in the workplace.“ 

Re-Envision a Safe Workplace with Us: Donate to Worksafe Today

In 2022, Worksafe is dedicating itself to re-envisioning the workplace as a place where everyone has the right to work in a safe and healthy job - and to return home safe at the end of each workday.
At Worksafe, we are here, every day, fighting for a safe and healthful workplace for all Californians. We are proud of our efforts this year. Here are some of them:
  • Winning the first major step to having OSH guidance issued by Cal/OSHA to protect  domestic workers from workplace health and safety hazards;
  • Building worker power with grassroots organizations to improve working conditions for low wage and vulnerable workers, like grocery workers and janitors in the Bay Area;
  • Assisting workers with active OSH cases, such as an employer’s failure to implement preventive measures to protect low wage workers from workplace exposure to the coronavirus;
  • Providing health and safety training to 1,974 workers and worker advocates;
  • Coordinating statewide allies and stakeholders to petition for and pass the Emergency COVID-19 Temporary Standard to ensure that workers were protected during the pandemic; and
  • Facilitating the provision of critical legal information to over 80,000 people about their workplace rights to stay safe from COVID-19.
Check out the details in our 2021 Impact Report. And please donate to Worksafe so we can continue this important work in 2022! 
Advocates Press Case for
COVID Worker Protections
Worksafe coordinated a strong response to a concerted push this fall by business interests seeking to undermine COVID-19 protections in California workplaces.
The November OSH Standards Board meeting saw the business community urging extraordinary procedural shortcuts in order to advance a petition from the Western Steel Council. WSC’s proposal would undercut Cal/OSHA and the Standards Board in favor of general guidance issued by the state Department of Public Health. And the guidance would be folded into Injury and Illness Protection Programs rather than any COVID-specific set of standards.
It’s just the latest twist on the corporate argument that we see made time and again against detailed protections for workers, in favor of weak guidance and hamstrung enforcement. The Standards Board showed signs of wavering.
But eventually the overwhelming weight of common sense turned the tide, including Chair Dave Thomas reminding fellow Board members at this month's meeting that California remains in the midst of the most serious workplace safety crisis of our lifetimes. The Board voted 6-1 to continue the COVID Emergency Temporary Standard well into 2022. And employer arguments to undermine the ETS going forward failed to gain traction.
You can help keep the momentum by signing our petition demanding exclusion pay for workers exposed on the job and required to stay out of work. 2022 promises to be another busy year fighting for the rights of California workers to be safe on the job.
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