April 2021

After the Verdict, the Work of Transformational Change Continues

Worksafe joins with those who are relieved that the American court system did not yet again deliver a travesty of justice. We hope that the verdict can provide Mr. Floyd’s family with some small measure of compensation for their enormous loss. We join the country in mourning and honoring Mr. Floyd’s life. 

As a country, we have a very long way to go to achieve fair and equal justice for all, in our courts, our workplaces, our access to health, on our streets, and in so many more spaces. For those of us in the field of occupational health and safety, we have experienced how the coronavirus has disproportionately affected communities of color across the nation as a result of generations of structural racism and health inequity. 

Though the verdict is significant, it will not, in and of itself, end police brutality, anti-Blackness, or the inequities that underlie the realities that Black, Indigenous, and people of color face in America every day. Structural racism and the trauma that it has caused is ingrained into the fabric of our country. We must all work together to address and heal these harms.  

Transformational change is not the work of the few but of all of us. It will require courage, patience, and stamina. In this, we are reminded of the courage of Darnella Frazier, only 17 on March 25th, who caught the murder of George Floyd on video, and, rising above fear of harassment and threats, posted her video and changed the world. In the past year, we have been proud to witness people all over the world demand justice, not just for Mr. Floyd, but also for Caron Nazario, Ma’khia Bryant, Breanna Taylor, Stephon Clark, Darell Richards, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and so many more. 

Worksafe joins our allies and partners as we move beyond reacting, and act to continue the work of dismantling systemic injustice and racism. In Solidarity, Worksafe

Health and Safety Legislation to Watch in 2021

This is a vital year for policy change in Sacramento; here are some key priorities that we are looking to advance with our partners.

SB 321 (Durazo) The Health and Safety for All Workers Act

This bill will remove the Cal/OSHA exclusion for domestic workers, so that they have the same legal rights to healthy and safe workplaces as all other workers. Worksafe is proud to be a co-sponsor alongside California Domestic Workers Coalition, California Employment Lawyers Association, California Immigrant Policy Center, and Equal Rights Advocates. Read the factsheet here and don't forget to sign the petition!

Sample Post: Domestic work is real work. We must end the exclusion of domestic workers from basic worker safety protections now - that’s why we need #SB321 now! #HealthandSafetyNow

SB 606 (Lena Gonzalez) Workplace Safety Enforcement

This bill will implement stronger enforcement measures for egregious and flagrant violations in order to keep workers safe as California continues to fight the spread of COVID-19. In addition, SB 606 protects workers from retaliation by establishing a rebuttable presumption of retaliation to ensure that workers feel safe to come forward and report unsafe working conditions. Worksafe is proud to be a co-sponsor alongside UFCW Western States Council. Read the factsheet here.

Sample Post: #SB606 gives Cal/OSHA much-needed tools to hold employers accountable for workplace health and safety violations & strengthens worker protections to encourage workers to report unsafe working conditions. #CALeg must say #YESonSB606 to #KeepWorkersSafe

SB 701 (Lorena Gonzalez) Warehouse Worker Injuries and Quotas

The bill will require warehouse employers to provide written notification to workers of expected quotas and any changes in quotas before taking adverse action against a worker for failing to meet the quota. It will also prohibit employers for deducting time spend on health and safety activities against quota requirements, provide anti-retaliation protections, and direct Cal/OSHA to create a new standard addressing musculoskeletal injuries in warehouse work. AB 701 is sponsored by Warehouse Worker Resource Center, California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, and LA County Federation of Labor. Read the factsheet here.

Sample Post: Relentless quotas + dangerous worklaods + constant surveillance = debilitating injuries. California's 250,000 warehouse workers deserve better. Protect or frontline workers with #AB701

Blog: Washington State Has a New Temp Worker Law - How Do California Laws Compare?

By Jora Trang, Chief of Staff & Equity

Washington state just became the third state in the nation to pass protective laws for temporary workers with their new Protecting Temporary Workers Law. This law seeks to place a barrier to temporary worker schemes which provide cost cutting incentives for companies to use temporary agencies. Studies have long shown that temp workers in higher-hazard industries are two times as likely to be injured as their directly hired counterparts. 

These schemes are well known for the profits they reap for employers at the expense of workers. Two policy briefs by researchers from the University of California Riverside’s Labor Studies program and the School of Public Policy’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development found that warehousing jobs in the region are often filled through temporary staffing agencies that pay workers low wages while offering them no health insurance. At the time of the reports, workers in the Ontario region earned a dismal average of $10.05 per hour. To date, the minimum wage in Ontario is $14.00, trailing a dollar behind the state minimum wage. 

How does California compare with Washington state’s new law? To answer this question, we need to look at the current state of laws about temporary workers in California first. California passed our own historic law on September 28, 2014, when then Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1897 into law. This law made California a leader in having some of the country's farthest-reaching protections for temporary workers. That law came in the wake of growing awareness about the status of temp workers as the fastest growing and most vulnerable segment of the workforce. Continue reading here.

Blog: Citations in the Time of Covid

By Stephen Knight, Executive Director

More than a year into the pandemic, the sad fact remains that, for most California workers, Cal/OSHA seems not to exist. Life and death issues are not limited to what many think of as "dangerous jobs" – they are now a daily reality in workplaces across our state. Personal protective equipment is not just a staple of emergency rooms but also now in our homes and offices. Yet not once have we seen California's governor or any other leader in our state government stand in front of a violating employer and tell the state's workers: "Cal/OSHA is here, and we've got your back."

Over the last few months, Worksafe has been lifting up the work that Cal/OSHA is actually doing to hold employers accountable for failing to protect their staff and communities from COVID-19. The agency started a website listing all of their citations related to Covid, and Worksafe has been sharing them individually on social media going back to December 2020.

I recommend that you take a look at this Twitter thread. Reviewing these citations individually and together is a bracing and educational experience, much more so than reading the DOSH press releases or skimming their citations page. Yes, the documents are dry, the language is legalistic. But they paint a stark picture of the harsh daily reality of work life during Covid. Workers getting exposed and sickened as they show up for their jobs during the pandemic, side by side at a vegetable packing conveyor belt in San Francisco (Imperfect Food, cited Feb. 11), providing security (PIH Health Good Samaritan Hospital, cited Feb. 26), harvesting in a vineyard (Bayview Vineyards, cited Dec. 2), working at a grocery (Supermercado Mi Tierra, cited Dec. 2), and rebuilding a roof (Troy Roofing, cited March 3). You can scroll through the Twitter thread to look at all the individual citations and the citations themselves. Continue reading here.

Next week is Workers Memorial Week 2021

Workers Memorial Day (April 28) is an international day of remembrance for workers who have been injured, sickened, and killed on the job. Next week (April 26 to April 30) labor organizations across California are remembering those who have passed away – and lifting up important campaigns across the movement for worker safety, health, and justice. 

We invite you to participate in statewide Workers Memorial Week social media actions. On Monday we’ll circulate a Digital Toolkit for hashtags, sample tweets, and downloadable graphics to post on your social media platforms. In the meantime, make sure you're following Worksafe on Twitter. This project is a collaborative labor of love from Worksafe, SoCal COSH, LOHP, LOSH, UC Merced, and other California organizations – and we are honored to share it with you!
May 20: Help us honor California's powerful worker health and safety movement
Worksafe’s 39th Anniversary Event, Solidarity Saves Lives: Protecting Each Other in Crisis and Beyond, is less than one month away. We see this event as a great opportunity to gather virtually, take a breath, and acknowledge the good work of California's worker health and safety movement. All proceeds benefit Worksafe's programs and advocacy. 

We hope you'll join us on May 20th at 6pm to honor our 2021 Health & Safety Heroes: Assemblymember Ash Kalra, UFCW Western States Council, and Glenn Shor!

Sound interesting? Here are some ways to get involved:

➡️ Purchase a sliding scale ticket for $20, $60, or $100. As a thank you gift, we will send you a limited edition Worksafe T-shirt with the purchase of $60 or $100 tickets.

➡️ Become an event sponsor – there are five sponsorship packages to choose from, and each includes tickets plus perks.

➡️ Show our honorees some love (and show off your org) with an ad in the program.

Register Here
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