Renewing Our Dedication and Focus
Renewing Our Dedication and Focus

January Newsletter

Renewing Our Dedication and Focus

We are pleased to share Worksafe's updated mission, vision, and values, which emerged out of many, many hours of work between our staff and board members, led by Chief of Staff and Equity Jora Trang. It’s one small piece of the work, but we’re proud of it:
We work relentlessly towards systemic change to protect the dignity, health, and safety of workers. 
A world where jobs are safe and dignified and workers and their communities are healthy and thriving. 

  • We believe that all workers deserve a safe and healthy workplace
  • We know that there is dignity in all work and all workers deserve respect
  • We demand that workers have equal access to justice in the workplace
  • We center the experiences of vulnerable workers, including low-wage and immigrant workers
  • We seek worker-centered and community-based solutions for protecting health and safety
  • We promote a collaborative, movement-building approach to action and advocacy

2022 Impact Report

In case you missed it, Worksafe's Impact Report for 2022 is available for review. 
  • We produced and distributed info regarding workplace COVID rights in several languages, including Tigrinya, Igbo, Swahili, and French
  • We participated in the Wildlife Resilience Working Group; partnered with several other organizations to develop a Wildfire Smoke Standard
  • We hosted an OSH strategy group to collaborate on next steps for Standards Board meetings
  • We wrote an 18-page letter with recommendations for changing the General Industry Workplace Violence Standard
  • We helped author and support several pro-worker bills, including four of the bills that passed this year

COVID Protections Into 2023

On December 15, the OSH Standards Board extended COVID workplace protections through 2024. The rules that will be in place starting January 2023 are substantially similar to the expiring Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that we won back in 2020, with the major and really indefensible exception being the removal of pay and job protections for workers excluded for being COVID positive ("exclusion pay").
Cal/OSHA's extensive resources on COVID workplace protections can be found here.
The vote was 6-1 with Board member Kate Crawford voting to simply end all COVID protections in the midst of the latest significant pandemic surge across the state. Employer groups showed up in force to denounce the continuation of these rules and to grumble darkly about Cal/OSHA not having authority without the Governor's emergency declaration (expiring in Feb. 2023); I guess we will find out if there may be further litigation against Cal/OSHA for daring to try to protect California workers. KRON’s coverage has our ED up against the Chamber of Commerce.
Importantly, in a huge win for all the work we have done together to fight for exclusion pay, it was confirmed that the current internal drafts of the permanent ATD standard for General Industry do include these job and pay protections. Board member Laura Stock has proposed that the Standards Board formally vote to express their strong support for including these vital protections in the permanent ATD standard, and that vote is expected at the January meeting.

The Two Year Standard, Minus Exclusion Pay:

A Response

Worksafe Staff Attorney AnaStacia Nicol Wright wrote the following in response to the decision not to put Exclusion Pay in the Two Year Standard for COVID 19.
“The fight for worker protections during COVID, much like COVID itself, continues: exclusion pay is in the current COVID-19 safety standard and has been included in past iterations as well; however, in response to pressure from the business community and other political powers, it will not be part of the pending 2-year non-emergency COVID standard.”
Read the entire blog post here.

The Return of Silicosis

Silicosis has been plaguing humans for centuries. More than once, the severity of this disease has inspired reform–most recently in the 21st century–but the disease is seeing a comeback thanks to the popularity of artificial stone countertops and the prevalence of small, hard-to-regulate shops in California. OSHA is currently grappling with the resurgence.
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Retaliation is a Significant Problem in California 

The report was released on November 2, 2022 by the National Employment Law Project (NELP)
Too often, our state’s at-will employment regime goes hand-in-hand with exploitative working conditions. This fall, our colleagues at NELP put out this terrific report: How California Can Lead on Retaliation Reforms to Dismantle Workplace Inequality. Out of over 1000 working Californians surveyed, “seventy-three percent of respondents worked while sick to avoid being fired. Forty-three percent reported that an employer pressured them to accept wage theft, or that they worked extra hours without pay to avoid being fired.” Forty-two percent of those polled said that “termination concerns also silenced them from speaking up about dangerous and unhealthy working conditions.” One caregiving worker explained in a focus group with the Pilipino Worker Center: “If you complain, the agency will tell you, ‘Okay, will you like us to get another caregiver?'” 
We are standing with NELP and our fellow coalition members in the California Coalition for Worker Power (CCWP) to push for policies to change this stark reality for workers. Workers need immediate support from the state when they report violations of state law and are met with firing or harassment. State laws need to reset the burden onto employers who punish workers for speaking up to prove that adverse retribution wasn’t illegal retaliation.
And in the medium to long term, we support NELP’s call for a move to a “just cause” standard and the end of the abusive “at will” employment system that facilitates business wrongdoing:
Replacing California’s at-will firing system with a just-cause termination standard would require employers to provide legitimate reasons and fair warnings before terminating workers. Effective just-cause policies also require employers to notify workers of performance problems in advance and provide an opportunity to address them… by requiring a good reason for terminations, just-cause protections more effectively protect workers from retaliation when they insist on other workplace rights.

Worksafe in the News

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