Topics: News, Press

Senate Approves Legislation to Keep Workers Safe on the Job

Sacramento, CA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Western States Council and the California Labor Federation celebrated the California State Senate’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.

“Workers are the backbone of our economy, and the sacrifices they’ve made throughout the pandemic are the reason why California is finally seeing the light at the end of this tunnel,” said Andrea Zinder, President, UFCW Western States Council and UFCW Local 324. “As the state reopens, and as we prepare for a post-pandemic future, we must ensure our workers have safe working conditions that prioritize their health and wellbeing. Enforcement is essential for worker safety, and SB 606 is critical to ensuring California’s workplace safety agency has the resources available to protect workers on the job. Our members know that when an employer policy is violating health and safety laws in one location, they’re most likely violating it in all their locations. The bill saves Cal/OSHA inspectors valuable time and resources when citing employers that flaunt workplace safety rules in multiple locations, and we’re proud the Senate joined us in support.”

A recent 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. 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.

“The pandemic exposed like never before just how critically important health and safety measures are to protecting workers on the job,” said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski. “Health and safety regulations can only protect workers if they are vigorously enforced. SB 606 gives Cal/OSHA the necessary tools to impose real penalties on flagrant violators of state law that endanger the safety and lives of workers. We applaud the State Senate for passing this necessary legislation and for sending a message that California won’t tolerate employers putting workers at grave risk on the job.”

# # #


June 2, 2021

Contact: Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620, [email protected]