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Major Victory for California Whistleblowers

Brown-signedGovernor Brown has signed Senate Bill 306 into law – sealing a major victory for California workers and dealing a serious blow to unscrupulous employers.

SB 306 (Hertzberg) strengthens protections for whistleblowers fired or discriminated against for reporting dangerous working conditions or other labor code violations. It allows the Labor Commissioner or a private attorney to seek an injunction to protect a worker who has suffered retaliation for reporting violations or engaging in protected activity under state labor laws. This can include an order that the employer temporarily reinstate the affected worker while the claims are investigated.

SB 306 also expands the Labor Commissioner’s authority to investigate retaliation cases, allows her to cite employers for unlawful retaliation, and increases penalties for employers who willfully break the law. It improves working conditions across California by bringing illegal activity to light and discouraging retaliation before it happens.

Worksafe and our allies promoted the need for a law like this because we know that an injury to one is an injury to all. When one worker is fired for speaking up, other workers are more likely to suffer in silence. The employer holds all the cards in this situation, and it was time to change that.

We thank the California Labor Federation for championing this bill, and applaud Governor Brown and California lawmakers for recognizing that employer retaliation has a chilling effect on workers’ ability to assert their rights in the workplace. We hope that you will join us in spreading the word about this profound victory.

Posted on Oct 6, 2017 | Comments (0)

California Policy Action Alert

Capitol domeAs the federal government dismantles the rights of workers, immigrants, and other marginalized communities, it is more important than ever for California to implement safeguards that protect our state’s most vulnerable populations.

We must counter bigoted and reactionary policy trends with our alternative vision of safety, health, and justice for all.

We are asking our partners and supporters to take action and stand in solidarity on a number of key pieces of legislation: SB 306 (Hertzberg), AB 450 (Chiu), SB 54 (De Leon), AB 1008 (McCarty), and SB 258 (Lara).

Click here to read more about these bills and find out how you can get involved!

Posted on Sep 6, 2017 | Comments (0)

Hot In Here: Workers Demand Strong Protections from Indoor Heat Hazards

7Too many California workers toil for long hours in very hot indoor environments – sometimes without access to clean water or adequate ventilation, even in the peak of summer. These workers are vulnerable to heat-related illness: health conditions that can range from heat exhaustion to deadly heat stroke. Workers in restaurants, warehouses, garment factories, and industrial laundries are particularly prone, though indoor heat hazards pose a serious risk in many other industries across the state.

In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1167 – a bill directing Cal/OSHA to protect workers from indoor heat exposure by January 2019. Worksafe and our allies are working to encourage Cal/OSHA to adopt a strong, evidence-based standard that will protect all California workers.

Worksafe strongly believes that workers most impacted by heat hazards should have the biggest say in determining details of the new standard — after all, they know what it is like to work in high heat environments without adequate protections. Unfortunately (and predictably) powerful industry players are attempting to weaken the rulemaking process behind the scenes. They claim it is too complicated to protect all workers from dangerous indoor heat hazards.

We beg to differ. When workers share their personal stories of heat illness, we listen. We hope that Cal/OSHA listens too and implements a new indoor heat prevention standard that is strong, worker-centered, and inclusive of all industries.

Are you a worker looking for training on indoor heat hazards?

Want to join our efforts to ensure a strong indoor heat regulation? 

Contact our Senior Staff Attorney Nicole Marquez (nmarquez at worksafe dot org).

 

 For more information:

Posted on Jun 28, 2017 | Comments (0)

Legislative and Regulatory Updates: Spring 2017

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Worksafe is currently prioritizing support for the following bills:

SB 306 (Retaliation Injunctive Relief - Hertzberg)

Sponsor: California Labor Federation

Status: Active bill pending referral in the Assembly

Summary: Would grant the Labor Commissioner authority to seek temporary injunctions against employers for Labor Code violations, such as retaliation for reporting a health or safety hazard. The bill would also give the Labor Commissioner authority to issue citations and penalties directly to enforce retaliation claims, rather than exclusively through the courts. Finally, the bill would authorize an employee who is bringing a civil action for a retaliation claim to seek injunctive relief from the court.

Read more...
Posted on Jun 8, 2017 | Comments (0)

New Worksafe Report Scrutinizes Tesla's Health and Safety Record

Over the past several months, workers at Tesla have become increasingly aware of the potential safety hazards at the company’s flagship vehicle plant in Fremont, California.

In April 2017, workers first requested copies of the OSHA Form 300, the log of work-related injuries and illnesses that companies are required by law to make available to their employees.

Worksafe analyzed these logs in order to interpret the data and evaluate how their plant compared to other auto manufacturing facilities.

This report represents the findings of that analysis -- read it here.

 

  

Posted on May 24, 2017 | Comments (0)

2017 Dying At Work Report Released

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Worksafe is proud to announce the release of our 2017 annual report, Dying at Work in California: The Hidden Stories Behind the Numbers.

We produce this report to bear witness to the human toll of unsafe work and unscrupulous employers, to inform the public about threats to worker health, and to emphasize the importance of publically available data on occupational health. We hope the report also serves to inspire collective action and celebrate recent advances and victories that have made workers safer. The full report is available here.

Posted on Apr 27, 2017 | Comments (0)

Join us for Workers' Memorial Day 2017

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Posted on Apr 21, 2017 | Comments (0)

Worksafe attorneys receive Social Justice Awards

Worksafe Managing Attorney Jora Trang and Staff Attorney Nicole Marquez had the honor of receiving the COSH Social Justice Award at the National Conference for Worker Safety and Health Awards Banquet on Wednesday, December 7. Jora and Nicole were recognized for their hard work and commitment to promoting diversity and social justice within the COSH movement.

For many of us, we are sobered by the reality of the coming year’s challenges to worker protections and attacks on immigrant, LGBT, and communities of color. While it is important to recognize these obstacles, it is equally important to recognize our accomplishments. The passion and dedication that won our past accomplishments fuel and reaffirm our commitment to worker power and social justice.

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Posted on Dec 22, 2016 | Comments (0)

Ya Basta! Coalition ending sexual violence against janitors

by Nicole Marquez, Staff Attorney

Workplaces should be free of violent threats or actions, and workers should always feel safe while at work. Unfortunately, this is not the case. 

Workers in the janitorial services, who are disproportionately immigrant and workers of color, are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault and violence at work*. Many often face other unfair and unsafe working conditions.  In its report, the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley (LOHP) found that some janitorial workers do not receive minimum wage, and many do not receive overtime payment. Many often work at night and in isolation. This isolation from co-workers and the public reduces the likelihood that anyone will intervene or witness assaults against them, and allows harassers to exert even greater control over workers.

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Posted on Dec 22, 2016 | Comments (0)

Building Community and Power with Oakland Day Laborers

by Nicole Marquez, Staff Attorney

At a time when marginalized communities are increasingly under attack, Worksafe and its partners, Centro Legal de la Raza and Street Level Health Project (collectively known as the Collaborative), are proud to share how immigrant Day Laborers in the Fruitvale district of Oakland are rising up and becoming leaders in their community. This last year, Worksafe was the only organization that received a grant from the California State Bar Trust Fund for a worker-oriented project around community redevelopment. The funding for this project, Safe, Secure and Sustainable jobs for Day Laborers, results from legal settlements with banks charged with predatory lending and other unlawful practices.

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Posted on Nov 23, 2016 | Comments (0)
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