Sacramento, CA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Western States Council, Worksafe and the California Labor Federation celebrated the California State Assembly’s approval of SB 606 (Gonzalez). SB 606 would give the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) the necessary tools to hold large employers accountable for workplace health and safety violations.
“Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen hundreds of workers on the frontlines of this pandemic get sick and die from COVID-19, and too many of these devastating losses have been among our own members,” said Andrea Zinder, President, UFCW Western States Council and UFCW Local 324. “As California continues to weather new threats brought on by the delta variant, and as we work towards a life after COVID-19, we must prioritize safe working conditions that prioritize workers’ health and wellbeing. However, we can’t do that if our enforcement agency lacks the resources to do its job. That’s why SB 606 is so important – the one inspector per 100,000 workers Cal/OSHA currently has to enforce worker safety laws is woefully insufficient. SB 606 will help save Cal/OSHA resources when citing employers that flaunt workplace safety rules, and we’re proud the Assembly has joined us in support.”
A study by the University of California at San Francisco shows the unspeakable price essential workers have paid for the failure of companies to keep their workers safe at their worksite during the COVID-19 pandemic. Food and agricultural workers faced the greatest risk of contracting COVID-19, with a 39% increase in death rates during this pandemic, followed by transportation and logistic workers, facilities workers, and manufacturing workers. These jobs are typically held by lower-income workers of color who don’t have the choice of working from home and are often forced to work in close proximity to their co-workers.
“Workplace safety must be a top priority for California as the pandemic continues to threaten workers across the state,” said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski. “We applaud the legislature for passing SB 606 to give Cal/OSHA the ability to vigorously enforce our workplace health and safety regulations and impose real penalties on flagrant violators that endanger lives. We urge Governor Newsom to swiftly sign this important measure into law.”
“These common sense reforms will strengthen Cal/OSHA’s ability to deliver real protections from COVID-19 and other workplace hazards that California workers deserve,” said Stephen Knight, Executive Director with Worksafe. “We call on Governor Newsom to sign this bill and ensure that Cal/OSHA has the necessary tools to hold employers accountable for workplace health and safety violations.”
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The United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council is the regional coordinating body of 11 UFCW local unions representing over 200,000 workers in California, Arizona and Nevada. The Council is a part of the 1.2 million-member strong UFCW International Union. UFCW members are standing together to improve the lives of workers, families, and communities.
The California Labor Federation is made up of more than 1,200 unions, representing 2.1 million union members in manufacturing, retail, construction, hospitality, public sector, health care, entertainment and other industries.
Worksafe is a California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting people from job-related hazards and empowering us all to advocate for the right to a safe and healthy workplace. For more information, visit www.worksafe.org.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2021
Contact: Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620, [email protected]