San Francisco
San Francisco
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
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
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories: San Francisco | Labor & Workers
Cal/OSHA MIA? Jeff Ruch Of PEER & The Crisis In Cal/OSHA
by Labor Video Project
Tuesday Jul 7th, 2020 9:11 AM
WorkWeek interviews Jeff Ruch from PEER about the virtual paralysis of Cal/OSHA which is supposed to protect the 19 million workers of California. He reports that CA/OSHA has recently sent out inspectors but refused to test them for Covid before they make visits of work sites. The Covid pandemic has gone on for over four months but Governor Gavin Newsom has refused to fully staff the agency and also there is still no Director of Industrial Relations which is over Cal/OSHA according to Ruch
Jeff Ruch with Protecting Employees Who Protect Our Environment PEER on WorkWeek 7/6/20 talks about a recent statement his organization released about Cal/OSHA.

He reports that Cal/OSHA is severely understaffed and has been unable to protect the 19 million workers of California. He also reports that Cal/OSHA have recently been sent out inspectors to do field inspections without themselves taking Covid-19 tests so they know whether they themselves are possibly spreading the virus.

He also reports on the failure of Governor Newsom to appoint a director of the Department of Industrial Relations thereby preventing Cal/OSHA from functioning properly.

Additional media:
Covid & The Staffing Crisis At Cal/OSHA With Garrett Brown MPH, CIH Retired From Cal/OSHA & Researcher

We Need A Safe Workplace! Tesla Worker Carlos Gabriel Speaks Out For Safety In Elon Musk's Tesla Plant

Coronavirus: Workers group wants Tesla to give more safety information

TESLA Employees COVID-Positive, Gov.Newsom Responsible-June 12 Protest In Sacramento

Protesters Outside Fremont Tesla Plant Demand Improved COVID-19 Safety For Workers
Protesters Outside Tesla Fremont Factory Demand Improved Safety for Workers

Cal/OSHA Inspectors AWOL During Pandemic
Growing Backlog of Workplace Complaints; Vacancies Remain Unfilled


Production of
Labor Video Project

Message Sent To Newsom & Top State Officials To Protect CA Workers From Covid-19 on May 19, 2020

Today Worksafe and 70+ labor & community organizations throughout California are sending an urgent message to Governor Newsom & top state officials: Listen to California Workers!

● Achieve Full Staffing of Cal/OSHA
Cal/OSHA is severely under-resourced making it impossible to respond to hundreds of COVID-19 complaints. Their current response via letter inspection leaves many workers vulnerable. Their inspector vacancy rate as of March 2020 is 20.5 percent. We demand Cal/OSHA achieve full staffing immediately. In the interim, Cal/OSHA should work with city and county health inspectors and deputize labor advocates to respond to the complaints.

Please join us on today as we take to social media to share our demands and uplift stories of workers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Read and share our coalition demand letter:

Help us boost the message with this social media toolkit:

Check out the Press Release below:

May 19th, 2020

California Workers & Advocates to Newsom: Workers Need Immediate Workplace Protections from COVID-19

CALIFORNIA - Today over 75 unions, worker centers, community and faith-based organizations, and occupational health and safety advocacy groups throughout California are uniting behind a demand letter to the California Governor, calling for immediate protections for workers amidst the spread of COVID-19.

A social media campaign today will uplift the stories of vulnerable workers who have been impacted by the current health crisis. Participating organizations will highlight their demands, and call on state leaders including Governor Gavin Newsom, Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senator Toni Atkins, Labor Secretary Julie Su, Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Parker, and others, urging them to further prioritize worker health, safety, and justice during this health pandemic.

“The current crisis has shown the vital importance of workplace health and safety for all, and it has amplified long-standing, unacceptable inequities that put the poorest and most vulnerable workers on the front lines of the most dangerous jobs,” says Alice Berliner of the Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health.

“Now as businesses and workers are transitioning to return to work, California needs to ensure that worker health and safety is prioritized, state agencies responsible for worker protection and enforcement are well-resourced, and workers’ rights are safe-guarded. We believe this crisis requires an unprecedented level of partnership and focus, and we would like to work with state agencies and the many ethical employers in California to ensure that our recovery is just,” says Roxana Tynan, Executive Director of the LA Alliance for a New Economy.

“California workers urgently need Cal/OSHA to refocus on inspections and enforcement, and Cal/OSHA urgently needs the staffing, tools, and resources to do so. We need a strong agency to ensure that all California workers can work safely and free from the hazards introduced or exacerbated by the pandemic,” says Jora Trang, Worksafe's Chief of Staff & Equity. “The coronavirus pandemic is the occupational health and safety disaster of our lifetime. We must treat it as such, and California should lead the way."

"We see firsthand that in warehouses across the state, employers continue breaking the law, and fail to protect workers from the spread of COVID-19. Amazon, one of the largest employers in the state, continues to put workers at greater risk, and has failed to properly disinfect facilities where there have been confirmed COVID cases. We need California leadership to hold companies like Amazon accountable to protecting workers and send the message that no one is above the law“ says Daisy Lopez, Community Organizer at Warehouse Worker Resource Center.


For more information contact:
Kathy Hoang: kathy [at]; (323) 524-8435
Sheheryar Kaoosji: skaoosji [at]; (213) 453-8454

Mara Ortenburger, MPH
Director of Communications & Research
Worksafe: Safety, Health, & Justice for Workers
1736 Franklin St., Ste. 500, Oakland, CA 94612 | Twitter | Facebook
she / her / hers

May 19, 2020
To: Governor Gavin Newsom

CC: Speaker Rendon, President pro Tempore Atkins, Labor Secretary Su, DIR Director Hagen, Cal/OSHA Chief Parker, Labor Commissioner Garcia-Brower, CDPH Director Angell, EDD Director Hilliard, Standards Board Executive Officer Shupe, Special Budget ​Subcommittee​ on COVID-19 Response, Special Committee​ on Pandemic Emergency Response, Senate Labor, Public Employment, and Retirement Committee​, Assembly Labor and Employment ​Committee​, Assembly ​Committee​ on Public Safety, Joint Legislative Budget ​Committee

Re: Worker Health and Safety - Urgent Priorities

The undersigned labor and community organizations dedicated to advancing civil, human, and workers’ rights, urge you to take action on the following occupational safety and health (OSH) priorities. These priorities are rooted in the experience of workers facing the threat of COVID-19​ in workplaces that fail to promote their health, safety, and wellbeing.

Through your leadership and the commitment of the workers’ rights movement over the last decade, California has taken important steps to protect workers’ dignity, safety, and health. But even before the pandemic struck, California had a long way to go to ensure we live up to our ideals through full and timely enforcement of our laws. Now, the challenges are even more stark. The lack of enforcement resources leaves workers vulnerable in this crisis. ​Many workers have fallen ill to COVID-19, with the death toll rising. Many more are forced to choose between their health and a paycheck. These challenges are further exacerbated for undocumented workers.

Now as businesses and workers are transitioning to return to work, California needs to ensure that worker health and safety is prioritized, state agencies responsible for worker protection and enforcement are well-resourced, and workers’ rights are safe-guarded. We believe this crisis requires an unprecedented level of partnership and focus, and we would like to work with you and the many ethical employers in California to ensure that our recovery is just.

It is in this spirit of partnership that we offer the following framework to ensure justice and safety for workers as we move through this time of danger and tackle the challenge of a recovery for all. The current crisis and the challenge ahead demand that California take immediate steps:

I. Create a Worker Protection Response Team of State Agencies and Worker Organizations

Create a Worker Protection Response Team to address COVID-19 and any future crisis to revise standards and partner on joint enforcement efforts. The Team should be composed of: worker organizations (both unions and worker centers), worker advocacy organizations, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), the Cal/OSHA Standards Board, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), the California Department of Public Health, and County Departments of Public Health. The Team needs to create proactive plans and guidelines that would take immediate action in the advent of a crisis. Urgent issues include:

page1image285641376 page1image285641648 page1image285641920 page1image285642384 page1image285642656 page1image285642928

● Partner with Labor
Work with worker organizations including unions, worker centers, and worker health and safety advocacy organizations to ensure workers’ rights are protected.

● Support the Labor Commissioner
The Labor Commissioner must (1) expedite and triage emergency paid sick leave violations, and immigrant-based and OSH-related retaliation violations; (2) institute a public and protected whistleblower process specifically for COVID-19 issues; and (3) increase resources for state enforcement of whistleblower rights and anti-retaliation protections.

● Strengthen Cal/OSHA Enforcement
Cal/OSHA has been hard to reach and physically absent amidst workplace concerns and complaints. Workers desperately need open lines of communication between Cal/OSHA, workers, and advocates, and there must be worker-centered alternatives if physical inspections are not conducted (e.g. phone interviews with workers, video inspections).

● Strengthen Cal/OSHA Complaint Investigation
Cal/OSHA must (1) immediately respond to and inspect COVID-19 related complaints for workers who are ​directly e​ xposed to the virus or positively confirmed COVID-19 individuals; (2) definitively state that Cal/OSHA will enforce their COVID-19 Guidances through the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) Standard; and (3) apply a presumption of serious or willful violations where the employer has not followed COVID-19 Cal/OSHA and public health guidelines.

● Coordinate with Departments of Public Health
There should be interagency cooperation between county Departments of Public Health and Cal/OSHA to investigate, and possibly immediately shut down, violating facilities. The agencies must coordinate and enforce strict record-keeping and anti-retaliation protection to prevent under-reporting and worker retaliation.

II. Worker Oversight of Workplace Conditions

Worker input and authority is the most reliable way to address occupational health and safety risks. Workers’ ability to come together and communicate about workplace issues and conditions is essential to ensuring that their rights are protected. We demand the following protections:

● Establish Worker Health and Safety Committees
All workplaces with at least five non-supervisory employees at a single location should be required to establish a Health and Safety Standards Committee composed of non-supervisory workers elected by their peers and management representatives. Committee members should be allotted time to meet on at least a monthly basis to discuss ways to improve health and safety, voice and raise concerns about employer compliance with workplace safety requirements, educate the workforce, and address problems.

● Establish Community Partnerships to Address Complaints of OSH Violations and Retaliation Establish procedures to certify and authorize worker organizations, in cooperation with the DLSE and Cal/OSHA, to conduct outreach, education, and training on new and existing safety standards. If there is a health and safety violation or retaliation complaint filed, worker


organization representatives would be able to inspect the workplace and interview and educate workers in response.

● Establish Recovery Task Forces
Develop industry-specific task forces that draw together state agency staff, small businesses, OSH professionals, and worker organizations to develop guidelines to facilitate resumed operations in full compliance with health-and-safety and wage-and-hour laws.

III. Strong Paid Sick Leave and Employee Benefits

Workers and their families are exposed to health hazards, with inadequate access to paid sick leave and other health-related benefits of employment. We reiterate the demands brought forth by the California Work and Family Coalition in their March 26, 2020 letter and additionally demand:

● Permanently Expand Paid Sick Days
COVID-19 has demonstrated the need to put protections in place for future health crises. Minimum permanent paid sick leave needs to be increased to at least 10 paid days (80 hours), accrued at 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 25 hours worked.

● Mandate Health Coverage
Mandate all employers of essential businesses that employ farmworkers and that have provided health coverage to continue to provide health coverage or cover the costs of medical expenses during this time for employees.

● Protect Worker Retention and Right to Return to Work
Workers who have been laid off as part of a mass layoff or business location closure must have the right to return to their job once the location resumes operations. Workers who have been laid off due to lack of work must have the first right to return to work once re-hiring commences. Enact a worker retention policy to protect workers’ jobs in the event of subcontracting, bankruptcy, or a change in ownership that occurs during a public health crisis.

● Avoid Cuts or “Pauses” to Minimum Wage at the State or Local Levels
Planned boosts to the state and local minimum wages will lift up more than one-third of the California workforce. A majority of these workers are women, workers of color, and immigrants employed in sectors including retail, garment, home care and health care, janitorial, child-care, transit, and grocery. These workers provide essential services for all Californians. Given the stagnation of incomes and wages for the bottom 20 percent of California workers and the state’s soaring cost of living, the State and local jurisdictions should not consider pausing or delaying these scheduled minimum wage increases and should ensure that all workers are paid at least an hourly minimum wage.

IV. On the Job Protective Measures

The pandemic has resulted in a tenuous working environment for those who have to continue to work. These workers face possible exposure to the coronavirus due to poor employer response. The following are essential to ensuring that workers’ health and safety are prioritized at this time:


● Include Domestic Workers and Day Laborers in Worker Protections
Support efforts to protect historically excluded workers. SB 1257, the Health and Safety for All Workers Act,​ ​would remove the household domestic service exclusion from the state Labor Code which currently results in the exclusion of domestic workers and day laborers working in private homes from Cal/OSHA protection. At present, Cal/OSHA cannot even issue emergency standards to protect these workers.

● Apply and Enforce Strong Workplace Protections
Workers need a more robust set of protections, including both new legal requirements and the stepped up enforcement of existing ones. This includes but is not limited to:

○ Close and Clean: ​Following a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace, employers must follow CDC guidelines and close off affected areas, up to and including the whole facility, for 24 hours before beginning enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, and employers must pay employees for any resulting lost work time and provide employees paid time off, sick leave, or alternative work arrangements to workers who must be quarantined because of recent exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 CASE.

○ Ease Workload and Ensure Hygiene Practices: ​Permit all employees to wash their hands every 30 minutes and additionally as needed. Time taken for handwashing, cleaning and sanitizing work areas, and other preventative measures must not be counted against performance targets and must be fully compensated. Suspend quantified performance quotas, as they impede workers’ ability to follow COVID-19 safety rules and add to physical and mental stress.

○ Employ the Most Effective Hazard Controls: ​Ensure that all employers utilize the hierarchy of controls to prioritize engineering controls such as shielding and ventilation, and administrative controls to maintain social distancing and reduce contact.

○ Protection from Workplace Violence: ​Protect workers from violence all across the spectrum of workplace violence.

○ Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)​: Ensure all employers provide appropriate PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

○ Illness and Injury Prevention Plan (IIPP): ​Mandate all employers to revise their IIPP to include a COVID-19 prevention program that allows workers to report COVID-19 related health and safety concerns and violations without fear of retaliation.

● Achieve Full Staffing of Cal/OSHA
Cal/OSHA is severely under-resourced making it impossible to respond to hundreds of COVID-19 complaints. Their current response via letter inspection leaves many workers vulnerable. Their inspector vacancy rate as of March 2020 is 20.5 percent. We demand Cal/OSHA achieve full staffing immediately. In the interim, Cal/OSHA should work with city and county health inspectors and deputize labor advocates to respond to the complaints.


● Increase and Strengthen Citations Against Offending Employers
There are hundreds of Cal/OSHA complaints about employers’ failure to implement the proper safety protocols for COVID-19. Offending employers who fail to comply with Cal/OSHA, State, County, and City COVID-19 guidances for Employers needs to be cited. Also, increase and strengthen the Bureau of Field Enforcement’s ​citation powers along the entirety of supply chains for workers experiencing violations of minimum wage and overtime laws, especially of concern at this time as long shifts and piece rate or quota systems can impede workers ability to follow safety protocols.

● Expand the Aerosol Transmissible Disease (ATD) Standard
In the current pandemic, the entire workforce is potentially exposed to a deadly transmissible disease. The ATD Standard only applies to healthcare workplaces. We demand that Cal/OSHA keep all workers safe by expanding the ATD Standard to all industries, mandating workable and enforceable safeguards, practices, and protections for all.

● Protect the Right to Refuse
Clearly state and enforce a worker’s right to refuse unsafe work that exposes them directly to the coronavirus without the proper safety protocols and protections.

Respectfully submitted,

Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1605
Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1756
Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 192
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance Alameda County (APALA) ATU Local 265

Bet Tzedek Legal Services
California Alliance for Retired Americans
California Immigrant Policy Center
California Labor Federation
California Teamsters Public Affairs Council
California Work & Family Coalition
Center for Workers’ Rights
Center on Policy Initiatives
Central Valley Partnership
Centro Laboral de Graton/Graton Day Labor Center
Centro Legal de la Raza
Chinese Progressive Association
CLEAN Carwash Campaign
Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice
Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area CRLA Foundation
Day Worker Center of Mountain View
East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy
Faith in the Valley
Friends Committee on Legislation of California
Garment Worker Center

Gig Workers Rising

Hmong Innovating Politics
Inland Empire Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur de California
Instituto Laboral de la Raza
Jakara Movement
Jobs to Move America
Just Transition Alliance
La Raza Centro Legal
League of Women Voters of Los Angeles
Legal Aid at Work
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy
Los Angeles Black Worker Center
Los Angeles Worker Center Network
Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund (MCTF)
Ms. (Lola Smallwood)
National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) National Day Laborer Organizing Network
National Employment Law Project
North Bay Jobs with Justice
Orange County Equality Coalition
Organización en California de Líderes Campesinas, Inc.
Partnership for Working Families
Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles
Pilipino Workers Center
Public Advocates Inc.
Restaurant Opportunities Center Los Angeles
Restaurant Opportunities Center of the Bay (ROC the Bay)
Rise Together
San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, Inc.
Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition
Street Level Health Project
UAW Local 509
UC Merced Community and Labor Center
UCLA Labor Center
UNITE HERE Local 2850 (Wei-Ling Huber, President)
United for Respect
Warehouse Worker Resource Center
Women’s Employment Rights Clinic
Women’s Voices for the Earth
Workers United-Western States Regional Joint Board SEIU
Working Partnerships USA
§Oakland McDonald's Workers Protesting For Health & Safety
by Labor Video Project
Tuesday Jul 7th, 2020 9:11 AM
The failure of Cal/OSHA to inspect workplaces is putting millions of California workers in danger. Governor Gavin Newsom has refused to fully staff Cal/OSHA and allowed California bosses to regulate themselves.
§California Nurses Protest For Proper PPE
by Labor Video Project
Tuesday Jul 7th, 2020 9:11 AM
California nurses who are members of NNU-CNA have been protesting for many months about the failure to protect their health and safety on the job including being forced re-use masks. Governor Newsom's Cal/OSHA has dropped California OSHA standards and allow California hospital bosses to use Trump's CDC standards which are much weaker.
§Meat Workers Dying From Covid
by Labor Video Project
Tuesday Jul 7th, 2020 9:11 AM
Meat plant workers are being contaminated by Covid and are dying on the job. The failure of Cal/OSHA to protect them is criminally negligent and the refusal of Governor Newsom to even hire many more inspectors makes him personally responsible.
Add Your Comments
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
Suggestion to not use 10 acronyms in titlesmeTuesday Jul 7th, 2020 3:09 PM
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


donate now

$ 227.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

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


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network