top
Central Valley
Central Valley
Indybay
Indybay
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Indybay
Regions
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
Topics
Newswire
Calendar
Features
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories: Central Valley | Labor & Workers
Remove Corrupt Christine Baker From CA Fraud Assessment Comm. & Prosecute Say Speakers
by Labor Video Project
Wednesday Jan 8th, 2020 10:24 PM
Christine Baker who committed fraud as head of the California Department of Industrial Relations and was forced to resign as a result of a State Audit and State Personnel Board report but was appointed to the California Fraud Assessment Commission FAC. Governor Gavin Newsom allowed her to take her seat and State Attorney General Xavier Becerra refuses to investigate and prosecute her and her daughter. Speakers attended the 1/8/20 meeting of the FAC to demand her removal and prosecution
sm_ca_fac_protesters_1-8-20_.jpeg
On January 8, 2020 at a meeting of the California Fraud Assessment Commission FAC speakers called for immediate removal and prosecution of FAC member Christine Baker for fraud and for colluding with the insurance industry and employers when she was director of the California Department of Industrial Relations DIR.

She was forced to resign after a State Audit and Personnel board report said that she had allowed her daughter to have a no show job with payment of $129,000 and also had retaliated against whistleblowers.
DIR investigator Socorro Tongco was illegally fired for investigating the Baker family corruption.

Tongco last year reached a $250,000 settlement. Baker After she resigned from as director of the DIR, she was appointed by former Governor Brown to the Fraud Assessment Commission and was allowed to take her seat by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Additionally, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has refused to investigate and prosecute either Christine Baker or her daughter Julianna.

Former Cal-OSHA Chief Lem Welsh who is now her business partner representing the insurance industry spoke in her defense saying she was really helping injured workers in Califonria and protecting health and safety. While he was in charge he slashed the number of Cal-OSHA inspectors and met privately with self-insured Kaiser to work out deals to limit their liability.

Additional media:
Major California labor official Christine Baker accused of ‘gross misconduct’ in nepotism probe
https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/networth/article/Major-California-labor-official-accused-of-13728257.php#article-comments

California State Auditor, “Investigation of improper activities by a state agency and its employees,”
http://bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/I2019-1.pdf

Baker Appointed To Commission By former Gov Brown and allowed to take a seat by Gov, Gavin Newsom
http://www.insurance.ca.gov/0300-fraud/0100-fraud-division-overview/20-fac/index.cfm#FACMeetings

“Nepotism investigation finds state executive got her daughter a job, undermined audit,” March 26, 2019:
https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics- government/the-state-worker/article228428574.html

Nepotism probe: California official who hired daughter had high-level help
https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Nepotism-probe-California-official-who-hired-13799559.php?psid=18bhy

Socorro Tongco, says DIR fired her in retaliation for cooperating with the auditor’s inquiry.
https://www.smdailyjournal.com/opinion/other_voices/secret-investigation-weakening-trust-in-state-auditor/article_1680645c-25bb-11e9-b8ce-e3d50defce02.html

Wrongful Termination Complaint Nets $250,000 Settlement
https://www.workcompcentral.com/news/article/id/dcbeff260441ba9e7872d39f4b6ed05a7b044cbf
https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/wcc-public-news-storage-4081/Greg_0119/12202018_DIR_Wrong_Term_Complaint.pdf

Auditor’s investigation exposed nepotism at DIR. Why did she try to hide it?https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article228455704.html

No Reporters Allowed By CA DIR Director Baker At "Private Event" On Cal-Osha & Workers Compensation
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M6m8S1OoH0&t=6s

Secret investigation weakening trust in the state auditor
https://www.smdailyjournal.com/opinion/other_voices/secret-investigation-weakening-trust-in-state-auditor/article_1680645c-25bb-11e9-b8ce-e3d50defce02.html

A Sordid Tale & Former CA DIR Director. Christine Baker
https://www.workerscompensation.com/news_read.php?id=32078

Production of Labor Video Project
http://www.laborvideo.org

Former Cal/OSHA staffer says he witnessed political coup that forced out agency head Widess
https://www.ishn.com/articles/99079-former-calosha-staffer-says-he-witnessed-political-coup-that-forced-out-agency-head
July 17, 2014
Garrett Brown MPH, CIH

EHS NewsmakersThis commentary and analysis was written by Garrett Brown, former Cal/OSHA staffer for the Inside Cal/OSHA website and is reprinted here with his permission.


Cal/OSHA Chief Ellen Widess was instructed to attend a meeting at 11 am on September 3, 2013 – the day after Labor Day – with California Labor Secretary Marty Morgenstern and Department of Industrial Relations Director Christine Baker at DIR’s Oakland Headquarters. Art Carter, chair of the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board and a longtime Jerry Brown confidante and political operative, was also in the room.

By 11:02 am Widess was told to resign as Chief, or be fired, to prepare a resignation statement within an hour, and to clean out her desk at Cal/OSHA by the end of the day. No explanation was given for the forced resignation, except Morgenstern and Baker said they wanted to take Cal/OSHA “in a new direction.”

Within hours of the official announcement of Widess’ resignation, the Cal/OSHA Reporter issued a “Flash Report” titled “Widess Out at Cal/OSHA – Community Cheering.” The weekly trade newsletter reported employer representatives were“ practically jubilant at the news.”

One anonymous “highly placed representative of the employer community,” told the Reporter “she’s [Widess] broken so many valuable ties with the business community, it had become a problem. As an appointee of the Governor, the business community is key.”

In fact, Widess had good relations with many business leaders – but not with the California Chamber of Commerce, which had been running a full-scale campaign against Widess since early 2013. Marti Fisher, the Chamber’s chief lobbyist and likely the anonymous employer rep quoted by the Reporter, had been complaining to DIR Director Baker with rising urgency almost since Widess became Chief in April 2011. The pressure campaign went into over-drive in 2013.

By May 2013, DIR Director Baker had ordered Widess to meet with her and Fisher every fourth Wednesday of the month. The Chamber was the only stakeholder organization to be given this kind of intimate, face-to-face time to air their complaints and demands on a monthly basis with the Director of DIR and the Chief of Cal/OSHA. Widess had two of these meetings (a third was canceled by Baker and Widess was on vacation in August)before she was forced to resign in early September.

The Chamber, on behalf of its employer members, complained they did not have access to Widess and that she would not “partner” with employers in health and safety projects. This is not true. I know because, as Widess’ Special Assistant, I helped prepare her for the regular meetings she had with employers in many economic sectors, including construction and agriculture. I was also assigned to work on several large partnership projects with manufacturing employers to prevent deaths in confined spaces, and with ag and construction employers to prevent illness and fatalities from heat exposure. Widess responded to virtually every invitation she received to speak to business organizations throughout the state.

But while employers had access to Widess as Cal/OSHA’s Chief, they did not have the kind of decisive influence they enjoyed under Widess’ predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger-appointee Len Welsh, who pretty much-granted employers whatever they wanted.

For example, Widess rescinded an official letter Welsh had written in 2010 for Grimmway Farms allowing the grower – over the objections of Cal/OSHA’s Senior Safety Engineers – to build and use jerry-rigged caged trailers with seats to transport farmworkers from one work location to another.

Widess showed no interest in pursuing partnerships with employers like San Diego shipbuilder NAASCO (General Dynamics) whose official partnership with Cal/OSHA was canceled in 2011 after the employer was issued “Willful” citations for refusing to stop passing massive ship sections by crane over the heads of workers below. Fed OSHA pulled out of the tri-partite partnership in 2010 because of the imminent hazards in the shipyard.

Or the partnership-in-progress (never consummated despite 7 different drafts of a partnership agreement) with the giant construction consortium KFM, which was ultimately issued “Willful” citations by Cal/OSHA’s Oakland office in 2006 for “cooking the books” of their injury records through an intense, carefully-managed campaign to discourage workers from reporting injuries through cash payments and reprisals at the San Francisco Bay Bridge’s eastern span replacement.

The Cal/OSHA Reporter Flash Report also claimed – again based on unnamed sources –that Widess was “widely unpopular” in the state’s labor community, which was also reported to be happy she was gone. But this was categorically denied by the health and safety coordinators of the California Labor Federation and the California Building &Construction Trades Council. Leaders of several unions expressed alarm and concern that Widess’ pro-worker protection policies would now be reversed as part of Cal/OSHA’s “new direction.” (see documents posted on the “Inside Cal/OSHA” website).

These concerns were and are well-founded.
It is a little known fact that Cal/OSHA does not control its funding, or its budget, or its hiring or, ultimately, its policies and procedures – the Department of Industrial Relations controls all of that.
Governor Jerry Brown, a corporate Democrat whose motto is “austerity today, austerity tomorrow, austerity forever,” appointed Christine Baker as DIR Director. Baker has, and no doubt believes, the standard Republican approach to workplace health and safety enforcement.

This approach, explained by Baker in internal meetings that I personally attended or received reports about, is that the vast majority of employers either do the right thing or would do the right thing if they knew how. So Cal/OSHA’s priority should be compliance assistance, partnerships, and consultation for these responsible employers.

For the small layer of “low road” or “bad actor” employers, regulatory enforcement is required to eliminate “unfair competition” and establish a “level playing field” for “high road” employers. But with these responsible employers making a good-faith effort and who make an honest mistake, Cal/OSHA should not be bothering them with “gotta-cha” citations and fines.

So DIR’s Labor Enforcement Task Force (LETF) will conduct enforcement actions against the “underground economy” employers, but large, politically-connected “responsible” employers will get kid-glove treatment. This is DIR’s famous “new paradigm” for Cal/OSHA, the “new direction” whose implementation required that Widess be dismissed.

A telling example of Baker’s corporate-friendly orientation was the program of DIR’s“40th anniversary of Cal/OSHA” event that was to be held in December 2013 but abruptly canceled without explanation several weeks before the date. The four-hour, afternoon program was personally designed by Baker. The final program – I was one of the two Cal/OSHA reps on the 10-person DIR planning committee – had more employer representatives than labor representatives speaking at the event. Marti Fisher of the Chamber of Commerce – an organization that vehemently opposed the creation of OSHA and has opposed virtually every worker protection since then – was scheduled to speak not once but twice during DIR’s Cal/OSHA anniversary event.

With the forced resignation of Ellen Widess, Director Baker now has absolute and uncontested control of Cal/OSHA, its resources and policies. All three of the legally mandated leadership posts – Chief, Deputy Chief for Enforcement, and Deputy Chief for Health – are now vacant. Baker has appointed an Acting Chief, an Acting DC Enforcement (actually three people sharing the Acting role), and the DC Health position is empty. The key DC Enforcement position has had temporary assignments since June 2012.

Baker’s control is being solidified as the Cal/OSHA Headquarters staff during Widess’ tenure – all longtime Cal/OSHA employees and experienced occupational health and safety professionals – are being reassigned, or replaced as they retire or leave, by DIR personnel with little or no OHS professional qualifications, or experience in regulatory enforcement, but with unconditional loyalty to the DIR Director.

Last September, also within hours of the official announcement of Widess’ resignation, well-known management attorney Fred Walter posted a blog with a laundry list of changes the most scorched-earth section of the employer community wanted implemented as part of the “new direction.” Walter ended his list of a dozen changes with the promise: “That’s for starters. Then we can talk about more structural changes.”[link to http://www.caloshablog.com/2013/09/04/calosha-chief-ellen-widess-resigns/ ]Taking stock of the new regime eight months later, in May of this year, Walter gave Director Baker and her Acting Chief of Cal/OSHA, Juliann Sum, an enthusiastic “two thumbs up” for their stewardship of Cal/OSHA. [link tohttp://www.caloshablog.com/2014/05/14/twenty-years-of-dilapidation/ ]As in all political coups, there are victims in the change of regimes.

At Cal/OSHA, the victims are California’s working people whose health and safety protections on the job are being undermined and weakened in pursuit of the “new paradigm” of employer-friendly compliance assistance and partnerships over strong, across-the-board regulatory enforcement.
§Christine Baker At CA Fraud Assessment Commission
by Labor Video Project Wednesday Jan 8th, 2020 10:24 PM
sm_baker_christine_face_standing_1-8-20.jpg
Christine Baker who has been engaged in fraud at the Department of Industrial Relations DIR also fired an investigator who was looking at the nepotism and corruption. The state had to pay investigator Socorro Tongco $250,000 for the illegal bullying and discharge. Gavin Newsom allowed her to be seated at the Commission and has refused to take action against the systemic corruption and attacks on the staff and workers by the agency.
§Former Cal-OSHA Chief Len Welsh Claims There Is No Fraud
by Labor Video Project Wednesday Jan 8th, 2020 10:24 PM
welsh_lem_former_osha_chief.jpg
Former Cal-OSHA Chief Len Welsh argued that Director Christine Baker was completely clean and that the State Auditor and State Personnel board make up the accusations of fraud, bullying and nepotism by Baker and her family. He is now in a business relationship with Baker that sell their "services" to the insurance industry.
§Baker & Welsh LLC-More Conflicts Of Interest & Corruption At FAC
by Labor Video Project Wednesday Jan 8th, 2020 10:24 PM
sm_baker___welsh__llc.jpg
Disgraced DIR Director Christine Baker who committed fraud and engaged in nepotism at the Department is now on the Fraud Assessment Commission and has gone into business with her crony Len Welsh to use her position on the commission for profiteering off the backs of workers in California.
§Injured Worker Advocate Dina Padilla Demanding Removal Of Baker
by Labor Video Project Wednesday Jan 8th, 2020 10:24 PM
sm_padilla_dina_fac_finger_at_baker_christine_1-820.jpg
Fomer SEIU 250 Executive Board member at Sacramento Kaiser and injured worker advocate Dina Padilla demanded that Christine Baker be removed from the Commission and also prosecuted for fraud.
§CA State Attorney General Covering Up Fraud By FAC Member Christine Baker
by Labor Video Project Wednesday Jan 8th, 2020 10:24 PM
xavier_becerra_pointing_and_newsom.jpeg
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra may have obstructed justice by refusing to prosecute Christine Baker for fraud at the Department of Industrial Relations. Baker arranged to have her daughter in a no-show job for $129,000 which was defrauded from the State but apparently Becerra is not interested in recuperating the money for the people of California. Governor Gavin Newsom allowed corrupt Christine Baker to take her seat at the Fraud Assessment Commission.
§Christine Baker Pushed Corrupt Contractors Like Maximus To Cut Healthcare
by Labor Video Project Wednesday Jan 8th, 2020 10:24 PM
sm_baker_christine_pushing_acoem_at_chswc.jpg
Former DIR Director Christine Baker gave a $40 million no bid contract to Maximus to determine whether workers were able to get their healthcare. This company has defrauded workers and the public around the country and is part of the privatization of Workers Comp in California.
They have unlicensed doctors from outside California who are anonymous making determinations about workers healthcare without even seeing them. As a result of Baker's corruption and collusion with the insurance industry workers have ended up losing their families and homes and some have committed suicide. Also many California workers who did not get their treatment because of the stalling by Baker's obstacle course became addicted to opiates due to their continuing pain. The failure to provide prompt healthcare for injuries leads to permanent disability for the rest of a worker's life.
§Protest Against Corrupt Maximus In The UK
by Labor Video Project Wednesday Jan 8th, 2020 10:24 PM
maximus_protest_uk.jpg
Maximus has killed thousands of people in England when it was given control of benefits for poor and disabled people. These privatizers and corrupt operators were brought into California by DIR Director Christine Baker with the support of Governor Jerry Brown who also supported privatization including charters in education.
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!

Donate

donate now

$ 104.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.

Publish

Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network