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Related Categories: East Bay | Labor & Workers
1,000 Cal/OSHA Inspectors NOW! Workers Over Profits Rally At Oakland OSHA Office
by United Front Committee For A Labor Party
Tuesday Feb 16th, 2021 5:51 PM
Trade unionists and workers rallied at the Oakland State Building to demand that OSHA hire 1,000 OSHA safety inspectors to enforce health and safety regulations in California work places.There are less than 200 inspectors for 18 million workers.
sm_osha_oakland_line-up.jpg
1,000 Cal/OSHA Inspectors NOW! Workers Over Profits Rally At Oakland OSHA Office

The covid pandemic is out of control in California workplaces and factories. Trade unionists and workers rallied at the Oakland State Building and Cal-OSHA on February 25, 021 to demand that Governor Newsom hire 1,000 Cal-OSHA safety inspectors to protect California workplaces.
There are less than 200 inspectors for California's 18 million workers and there are very few physical inspections according the speakers.
UBER and Lyft, Tesla, OEA and other workers spoke about the lack of protection. Also Cal-OSHA inspector Charles Rachlis also talked about the dire situation in the agency.
This rally was sponsored by the United Front Committee For A Labor Party.
Additional media:
Profit Over Lives At JBS: Covid, OSHA and Life & Death With UFCW 7 President Kim Cordova
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhLSqAeFKgQ
The Foster Farms Covid-19 Deaths & The Community With Deep Singh of The Jakara Movement
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYWZbkdnQds
Covid, Death & Capitalist Crimes In California's Central Valley
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdhVkIoRWNo&t=11s
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio
The Covid Pandemic & Central Valley Agricultural Workers
https://youtu.be/wUp42Eqb7R8
Workers, Liability, The Hero's Act and Health and Safety On The Job With UFCW Local 7 President Kim Cordova
https://youtu.be/ezmEDOiR9s0
Covid, Death & Capitalist Crimes In California's Central Valley
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdhVkIoRWNo&t=11s
Investigation: Counties With Meatpacking Plants Report Twice the National Average Rate of COVID-19 Infections
https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2020/05/ewg-map-counties-meatpacking-plants-report-twice-national-average-rate
America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Confirms Growing COVID-19 Impact on Frontline Workers
http://www.ufcw.org/2020/06/25/covidupdate/
Covid & The Staffing Crisis At Cal/OSHA With Garrett Brown MPH, CIH Retired From Cal/OSHA & Researcher
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JBRHGoJSLA
Tesla, Covid-19, Elon Musk, Cal-OSHA & Gov. Gavin Newsom-Interview With Tesla Worker Carlos Gabriel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx9fRymBiqk
'We Need A Safe Workplace! Tesla Worker Carlos Gabriel Speaks Out For Safety In Elon Musk's Tesla Plant
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGLb61Iy5VQ
Jail Tesla Billionaire Elon Musk & Defend Health & Safety: Workers Speak Out At Tesla Fremont Plant
https://youtu.be/GBB5y5Q6cZI
Elon Musk "He Thinks He Is Above The Law" Rally at Tesla plant
https://youtu.be/rzPl6tm3k7U
Coronavirus: Workers group wants Tesla to give more safety information
https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/15/coronavirus-workers-group-to-demand-tesla-give-more-safety-information/
TESLA Employees COVID-Positive, Gov.Newsom Responsible-June 12 Protest In Sacramento
https://patch.com/california/sacramento/calendar/event/20200612/838884/tesla-employees-covid-positive-gov-newsom-responsible
Protesters Outside Fremont Tesla Plant Demand Improved COVID-19 Safety For Workers
https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2020/06/15/protesters-fremont-tesla-plant-demand-improved-covid-19-safety-workers/
Protesters Outside Tesla Fremont Factory Demand Improved Safety for Workers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrZpnX7bQKk
Production of Labor Video Project
http://www.labormedia.net

For class struggle to force the hiring of 1000 CAL/OSHA inspectors now!

Speech Charles Rachlis 02152021

Workers, friends and comrades, I am a public worker here at Cal/OSHA. So first I want to make it crystal clear I am not authorized to, nor do I speak for Cal/OSHA, nor am I authorized to speak for the union which purports to represent the safety engineers who do the inspections. The opinions which follow are mine alone and the facts can be checked by those with patience for that sort of thing.

Workers have the right to expect on-site inspections conducted by qualified inspectors when they face hazardous conditions. They should have the right to inspectors who are not overly extended and buried in cases. But the State of California’s government, run by the Democrats and Republicans has presided over decades of under-resourcing and understaffing of Cal/OSHA.This is what happens when the capitalist class controls the state, the government and the political parties and the workers have no fighting party of their own.

Because OSHA has, since its inception, been a compromise, a reform won, but not sustained by class struggle. OSHA is subject to the pressures of politics and class struggle.

I will always speak out for building strong unions to fight for our interests. Unfortunately most workers feel under-represented by union leaders whose strategic orientation is supporting capitalist politicians, rather than building militant unions that prepare for the class struggle and squarely call out the capitalists’ Class War against labor.

To resolve structural problems of state government we must reorganize the power relationships between social classes. The crisis will be resolved either in the interest of the capitalists by crushing the unions and driving down wages and benefits or in the interest of labor by organizing class struggle unions and a workers party based on a revitalized labor movement.

Consider how the capitalist state maintains state agencies responsible for health and safety on the job!

Last June the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) reported a 21% vacancy rate at Cal/OSHA.

They reported that California has only one inspector for every 99,000 workers, a fraction of the ratios for Washington which is (1 to 25,000) and for Oregon which is (1 to 22,000);

Now I know for a fact these inspectors are smart and well trained, I know they put in a solid 40hrs every week often missing lunches, breaks and working late because that's the job …. but no one is that good 99,000 workers per inspector! Something has to give.

On top of that PEER reported that:

"In a state where more than a quarter of its 18.5 million workers speak languages other than English, there are only 28 Cal/OSHA field enforcement inspectors (less than 15% of the inspectorate) certified to speak languages other than English."

These numbers may have changed a little since then but not significantly except that when the Division loses employees it loses experience and historic and institutional knowledge and when it hires the onboarding process is fast paced, extensive and long in duration. It takes close to three years to onboard a new inspector, presuming they come with the requisite knowledge and skill set.

For years the Director of the Department of Industrial Relations Christine Baker was making common cause with a corrupt Human Resources Department Janice Yapidainko while the unions and top bureaucrats turned a blind eye. Indeed, managers in the know and rank and file lived in obsequiousness and fear of the corrupt power bloc which poisoned the Department. HR was conniving in its use of inside influence to advance unqualified candidates while stringing along or chasing off qualified candidates.

The dysfunction in the Department was made public in an audit two years ago, there is no need to beat that drum here and now; except, that the repercussions continue to afflict the organization which emerged after the departure of the Director ill prepared and understaffed at the beginning of the pandemic.

Today the Division (Cal/OSHA) is being crushed under the weight of hundreds of serious COVID-19 illnesses and Fatalities and thousands of complaints from across the general industry. The Division is mandated to open inspections for serious occupational accidents, illnesses and fatalities (with certain jurisdictional guidelines) and it must also answer valid and formal complaints so managers triage prioritizing serious illness, accidents and fatalities for on-site inspections. Because of the sheer volume of complaints the field inspectors are stuck for hours at their desks, processing those calls and using letter and phone calls to employers in lieu of on site inspections for the thousands of complaints most of which are about COVID and the fear of potential exposures.

Inspectors in the District Offices are stretched and pushed beyond their limits! They needed additional resources a year ago, six months ago, yesterday would not be too soon!

In the media and among some politicians and public health experts the COVID-19 pandemic has been likened to a war, emergencies have been declared, we get a lot of updates, daily, weekly from the governors, mayors, the CDC, and Public Health.

Yet, throughout the course of the pandemic the Governor never authorized immediate emergency action to cut through the red tape and expedite immediate hiring of the staff needed for the job. If there were a flood there would be thousands mobilized for the filling sandbags and such...this is a flood! Where are the thousands needed to do the work?

The ruling class with their wealth have the privilege of space and money to self isolate, but essential workers are being exposed in work sites and are not being served either by OSHA consultation or enforcement in a timely manner because they do not have the troops to put out in the filed. The good employers struggle to understand and implement the emerging and changing guidelines and standards the problematic employers give employees grief with little fear of oversite from the understaffed Division.

The Governor has not reached out to the universities to provide the Division with, emergency and temporary assignment of the most promising young engineers and scientists to integrate into the Division on an emergency basis!

He has not utilized the resources of the state to immediately bolster Cal/OSHA because he represents the capitalist class not the working class. Only a workers government can ensure a robust health and safety for all workers. That is why we are campaigning for labor to break from the Democrats and build a fighting workers Labor Party.

Who should be enforcing the ATD standard?

The Governor did not mobilize retired medical professionals, have them onboarded, deputized and put in the field to consult and enforce the very complex Aerosol Transmissible Disease Standard, in the hospitals, skilled nursing homes, prisons and other congregate settings. Their expertise was left in lockdown

The ATD standard is not only very complex it has very little history of enforcement. In normal times the hazards addressed by this standard present in manageable quantities in the Healthcare setting.

Essential workers want to know why weren’t the experts deputized? The national guard has medical professionals whose knowledge could be put to use at the Division. Where is the national guard?

This is a health standard and most of the inspectors are safety engineers not industrial hygienists. Most of the inspectors who are enforcing it today never read it until their first ATD case!

The history of underfunding science in state service is catching up with us now!

The 20 plus year old disparity between engineers and scientists salaries has not been resolved, hence, on top of being under-resourced, the Division is woefully understaffed on the health side! Meaning the Division hires safety engineers and industrial hygienists but cannot retain the industrial hygienists because they do the same or more complex work for less money!

Let’s face it, the bosses' political machine that created Gavin Newsom never planned for him to be a real innovative leader, they wanted and got a tool! A tool to enforce the will of the billionaire class and never to miss an opportunity to take back from the public workers he sits across from at the bargaining table for state employees.

What did the Governor do in the 2020 contract? With the sad rhetoric of, “Were All in this Together” and with naught an audible peep from the unions, contracts were signed which cut the pay of state workers by ~ 9.4% for two years.

That’s the equivalent of two days a month furlough. Then, faced with the crunch of work, he had to beg hundreds of workers to come back on overtime at the EDD and for COVID-19 case case work!

In 2009 the Schwarzenegger’s response to the recession was to apply 72 days of furlough to state workers. In response, some state workers unions negotiated “no-furlough” clauses into their contracts only to capitulate in 2020 accepting a cut in wages and hours, the equivalent of a furlough. While employees have the right to take those two days off a month the essential workers at Cal/OSHA are under the pressure of their case-lapse-time to work those two days and bank them as CTO. So much for promises from the union leaders to protect the gains of the past.

The 2021 budget provides for close to 180 new inspectors but there are caveats and hoops to be jumped through before they are hired and even with managers working around the clock to evaluate candidates, they will not be hired and onboarded in time to support in the pandemic response. Indeed even with 180 new inspectors the Division will not come close to the ratio of inspector to worker in Oregon and Washington.

A Myriad of Problems:

The corruption at HR itself was a symptom of the problem but not the source.
The decades old chronic understaffing is a symptom of the problem but not the source.
The understaffing that precipitated a culture of inspections driven more by pressure to satisfy observable metrics than what lay beneath the surface at the inspection sites, is a consequence but not the source of the problem.
And The 20 year old disparity between Industrial Hygienists salary and the salary of the Safety Engineers still undercutting the Divisions ability to recruit and retain Industrial Hygienists, is a consequence not the source.

Indeed, it is essential to understand that OSHA, as an organization, was a historic gain of the working class in the struggle for health and safety in the workplace. But OSHA is not controlled by or run by workers or their representatives. OSHA functions under pressures from all organized stakeholders.

The state, we are taught in 10th grade civics class, is obliged to act as a neutral supra-class arbiter standing above all interest groups and ensuring equal justice for all. That is all well and good as far as civics class goes, but in the real world all states have a class nature. Every state defends the interest of its ruling class and in a capitalist society the state enforces the collective will of the capitalist class behind the veil of constitutional democracy.

Capital (the employing class) mobilizes its legislators, its lawyers and spares no expense to stand in check against organized labor and workers advocates. At every step the employer class challenges health and safety regulations as they are proposed, written, legislated, promulgated, enforced and adjudicated. They do this not out of malaise or hatred of their workers they do it under pressure of shareholders for tangible regular predictable profits. Any animosity, intimidation, alienation of social relations between management and labor are the result of management's obligation to suck labor dry as it confronts each worker's obligation to go home safe and healthy to their families after a day's work.

How does the ruling capitalist class collude with the leaders of the labor movement against the interest of the workers?

Consider Blanning and Baker LLC., which runs two company unions, CAPS (for the Scientists) and PECG (for the Engineers). A company union is a union which cuts its deals with the management against the interest of the rank and file and in the interests of the employer.

Blanning and Baker organized CAPS and PECG and for decades Blanning and Baker have led them while also acting as the executive director for the Young Democrats of California, a political arm of California’s political machine. While Blanning and Baker was able to deliver on bread and butter issues for PECG its faustian deal was to sacrifice the smaller bargaining unit of scientists in CAPS and to use PECG and CAPS contracts as a battering ram against SEIU and the other unions. PECG and CAPS, representing a relatively uninterested layer of a labor aristocracy which does not take much interest in their union. Kept in the blind the membership accepted takeaways which former Governor Brown wanted to enforce on all 250,000 state workers during the 2015 bargaining period.

Ultimately the 16,000 scientists and engineers, mostly without evening knowing it, signed off on take-backs in the form of a payroll checkoff contribution to pension medical insurance fund. Why? Because the capitalist politicians and Governor Brown wanted to ensure the for profit medical and insurance companies can raise premiums annually. Instead of looking to the 120 plus billionaires in California the governor went after the workers requiring a check off which Blanning and Baker pushed through. SEIU then followed suit and the check off was enforced.

So we need more inspectors, do we need the same ratio as Washington and Oregon? Do we need a 1000 inspectors? Is 1000 inspectors even enough? I do not know but I do know that if I had ten new hires, in my office tomorrow I could keep them all very busy fulfilling the mandate of the Division.

If the capitalist politicians had intended Cal OSHA to be fully staffed and capable of meeting its mandate, it would have been by now! So the Governor assigned new chiefs and directors with impeccable credentials and resumes after the debacle was exposed in the audit may have the best intentions but even they are constrained by the class nature of the state which is far from a neutral arbiter.

So opposed to a capitalist state government which pretends it is class neutral but underserves the people we need a workers government which makes no claim to class neutrality.

To enforce health and safety in the workplace to build robust health and safety enforcement workers need their own fighting workers party.

Such a party can only be built by the ranks of labor taking up class struggle tactics of strikes and direct action to build workers power in the work places and streets and with a strategy of political independence expressed by breaking from the Democratic Party and running labor candidates.

Our labor candidates must run campaigns are used to organize and mobilize the labor movement and movements of specially oppressed peoples to fight for Transitional Demands that chart a path from basic needs such as safe and healthy Jobs for All, through massive public works programs, to 30 hours work for 40 hours pay, housing for the unhoused, healthcare for the people not for profit, free quality education from pre-school to graduate school, and pensions straight through class struggle and political independence to the nationalization under workers control of the commanding heights of the economy, and the democratic planning of production need to build a healthy future.
§Cal-OSHA Inspector Charles Rachlis Reported On OSHA Crisis
by United Front Committee For A Labor Party
Tuesday Feb 16th, 2021 5:51 PM
sm_osha_oakland_rachlis_2-15-21.jpg
Charles Rachlis who Is an Industrial Hygienist at Cal-OSHA talked about the failure of the agency to do it's work due to the lack of staffing and downsizing of many years.
§Stop The Murders On The Job
by United Front Committee For A Labor Party
Tuesday Feb 16th, 2021 5:51 PM
sm_osha_oakland_stop_the_murders_2-15-21.jpg
Speakers talked about the systemic failure of Cal-OSHA to protect workers and also the profiteering by the billionaires like Tesla's owner Elon Musk and Amazon's Jeff Bezos who have refused to properly protect their workers.
§Edward Escobar And UBER Lyft and Gig Workers Under Attack
by United Front Committee For A Labor Party
Tuesday Feb 16th, 2021 5:51 PM
sm_osha_oakland_escobar.jpg
Edward Escobar with the Alliance For Independent workers talked about the covid pandemic and the failure to protect drivers and the passengers.
§Where Is Newsom?
by United Front Committee For A Labor Party
Tuesday Feb 16th, 2021 5:51 PM
sm_osha_oakland_where_is_newsom_2-15-21.jpg
Speakers talked about the role of Governor Newsom in becoming a shill for the billionaires and destroying Cal-OSHA so workers have no real protection from the Covid pandemic
§Safety Over Profits
by United Front Committee For A Labor Party
Tuesday Feb 16th, 2021 5:51 PM
sm_osha_oakland_safety_over_profit_2-15-21.jpg
A participant Shirley demanded that safety go before profits in workplaces in California.
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