It's legislative season...
It's legislative season...

August Newsletter

Karín Secures Solís Policy Fellowship

Our Senior Staff Attorney Karín Umfrey is currently a fellow of the Dr. Beatriz María Solís Policy Institute (SPI), formerly known as the Women’s Policy Institute (WPI). This prestigious program is an experiential policy advocacy training program designed to advance policy that centers racial, economic, and gender justice. She was accepted into the Economic Security team. As part of this program, Worksafe is a co-sponsor of AB 2300.

AB 2300 provides CalWorks and CalFresh recipients with additional protections against reductions in their benefits when facing workers’ rights violations. With the current work requirements for CalWORKs and CalFresh participants, if they quit or reduce their hours to escape bad bosses and dangerous workplaces, they could lose their safety net altogether. AB 2300 will make sure everyone in California has the same rights in the workplace by allowing workers who leave a job due to employer violations to continue feeding their families while they search for a new job. 
Karín pitched the bill to many legislators, securing an author, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, right before the deadline. She also drafted a significant portion of the bill and assisted in drafting or advising on amendments. From there, the Economic Security team met weekly with Asm Ash Kalra’s staffer and co-sponsor, SPARC, a community college group made up of students receiving CalWORKs benefits. The team also had frequent meetings with CDSS and CWDA to work through issues the agencies and county flagged. The bill has passed Senate appropriations and is up for a floor vote. If it passses the floor vote, AB 2300 goes to the Governor’s desk to be signed or vetoed. 

Congratulations Karin on this fellowship!

Rideshare Drivers United Victory

We are excited to share news from Rideshare Drivers United (RDU) about a big victory on behalf of the California gig workers they represent. CalOSHA has cited Lyft and Uber for violations of COVID safety guidelines. 
From RDU’s press release: “This is a BIG step forward for drivers in California, as this is the first time a state safety agency is asserting that app drivers are worthy of the same workplace protections as any other worker.  Yet even now, both Lyft and Uber are again breaking the law by not notifying drivers about these citations, as required under California law. It is more important than ever that we hold the companies accountable for their failure to take responsibility for keeping their drivers safe by getting this information out as broadly as possible.”
Worksafe has been in ongoing conversations with RDU about driver safety and corporate accountability since early in the pandemic, and we are thrilled to see this action by Cal/OSHA. But it will be a real challenge to see any compliance with the law from these companies that are structured around its avoidance.
You can see the citations, press release, and other related documents here at this link.
When we fight, we win!

On the Machine Guard: Monkeypox and More

If you haven't been keeping up with The Machine Guard: A Worksafe Blog, check out our most recent posts. We’ve been working hard getting the word out about crucial worker health and safety issues like Workplace Violence and Monkeypox. Here are the blogs we released this month to bring awareness to these under-discussed topics:

Worksafe Staff Attorney AnaStacia Wright delves into California's latest state of emergency, which workers are at highest risk, and how they may be able to stay safe while working

Cal/OSHA is currently revising their draft workplace violence standard, already in process for multiple years as casualties for workers mount across the state. With that in mind, "Faces of Workplace Violence" touches upon how many of the nation's most recent tragedies were in fact workplace violence incidents.

Wins for Workers on the Line in Sacramento

Worksafe is tracking a number of strong pro-worker bills in Sacramento as the legislative session enters its final weeks. We are very excited about the prospects for reshaping worker power in the fast food industry with the FAST Act, AB 257. This bill would create a first-in-the-nation Fast Food Sector Council, including representatives of state agencies, workers and employers, to set and review minimum health, safety and employment standards in the industry. It will hold franchisors responsible for ensuring that their franchisees actually comply with labor standards, including anti-retaliation provisions and more. If you missed our action alert on the FAST Act, please click here today.
Our close involvement in legislation to protect CalWorks and CalFresh benefits for those facing workers’ rights violations (AB2300) is described in Karín’s update elsewhere in this newsletter. And there are other strong proposals pending final approval, including:
SB 951: Increasing Wage Replacement Rates for PFL + SDI - aims to fix a gender and racial justice issue, increasing wage replacement rates for paid family leave (PFL) and State Disability Insurance (SDI) so that lower income workers get 90% of their income when they cannot work because they are caring for a seriously ill family member, a new baby, or their own serious health condition. The rate will apply to workers making 70% or less of the state average weekly wage (for 2022, that would be about $57,000/year). To pay for these improvements -- which will largely benefit women born outside of the United States, and/or workers woo identify as Black or Latine -- SB 951 would delete a provision of the law that exempts high-wage earners from having to pay into the programs the same percentage of their income as low-wage workers do. SB 951 has passed through Senate Appropriations and is off to the Senate floor for a vote.
We are also excited about the Pay Transparency for Pay Equity Act (SB 1162) which is currently making its way through the Assembly chamber.  Unfortunately it only emerged out of the Appropriations Committee after removal of the requirement for the public disclosure of company pay data reports. While this setback is disappointing, other provisions of the bill will still be important victories for workers. Most importantly, the data will still have to be reported to the state of California. This op-ed in CalMatters helps to tell the story about why SB 1162 is a huge deal for workers—particularly contract workers—and for the labor movement as a whole.
Safety Net 4 All’s AB 2847 would build a more equitable and resilient California by removing a longstanding racist exclusion that has had a devastating impact on our economy and communities. It would provide unemployment benefits for excluded immigrant workers - $300 weekly for up to 20 weeks. The bill moved out of Senate Appropriations and is off to the Senate floor. AB 2847 should be signed into law because it is key to providing those who are left out, a part of the state’s safety net and creating a strong and resilient economy.

Worksafe in the News

Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn
Donate to Worksafe
Subscribe to our email list.