Sen. Gonzalez Chairs First in a Series of Fall Oversight Hearings of the Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response

October 07, 2020

Sacramento, Calif.- Today, Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D- Long Beach) will chair the first in a series of Senate oversight hearings by the Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response since the end of the California legislative session. The oversight hearing will shed light on workplace health and safety issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on sectors with essential workers. The hearing’s findings will be used to help prevent future outbreaks and develop accountability measures for those employers who haven’t followed state public health and safety guidelines during the pandemic.

“Essential workers are the back-bone of our economy; they are our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our everyday heroes and they should be valued as such. Employers cannot continue with business as usual when a global pandemic threatens the health of our families. State public health and safety guidance is issued to protect the people who work every day to provide for their families and everyone’s day to day needs,” said Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D- Long Beach). “It is important to provide COVID-19 testing and PPE to employees and that staffing levels are appropriate to ensure workplaces are safe. Some employers have not been taking the minimum precautions necessary or following state guidance to protect their workers. Frankly, I am extremely disappointed and appalled that almost seven months into the pandemic, we still have life-threatening problems at certain worksites.”

Through this hearing, the committee will gather information to determine the needed changes to hold employers accountable for employee safety by examining some of the health and safety violations that have transpired in workplaces over the course of the pandemic. The effectiveness of current enforcement protocols that are in place to ensure employers are held accountable for the health and safety of their workers will also be analyzed after live testimony from essential workers and Administration officials at the hearing.

“The severity of COVID-19 and its ongoing impact on our communities means we have to keep doing all we can, especially when it comes to protecting our essential workers. That’s why I created this Special Committee and asked Senator Gonzalez to lead it,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego). “I know Senator Gonzalez and the committee will take the information provided by workers at this important oversight hearing and use it to inform the Senate’s efforts to better protect Californians serving in our vital businesses and industries.”