State Legislature Passes Bill by Senator Gonzalez to Keep Workers Safe During COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond
Sacramento, Calif. – On September 9, 2021, the State Legislature approved SB 606 – Workplace Safety Enforcement by Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) which would implement stronger enforcement measures for egregious and flagrant violations in order to keep workers safe, especially as California continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am pleased that the State Legislature has approved SB 606 to keep California workers safe on the job, especially Black and Latino workers who have suffered immense loss through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “During this pandemic, workers in all industries have bravely contributed their time and labor to keep our economy going despite the unprecedented challenges we have faced and all of them deserve to have a safe working environment now and in the future. We must prioritize worker safety as we continue to reopen our economy and protect workers from large corporations who have a complete disregard for their wellbeing. We can achieve this by giving Cal/OSHA the resources it needs to hold employers accountable for health and safety workplace violations via SB 606. Thank you to my all my colleagues in the Legislature and the many community groups on the ground that have supported this bill and who believe in this important cause.”
“Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen hundreds of workers on the frontlines of this pandemic get sick and die from COVID-19, and too many of these devastating losses have been among our own members,” said Andrea Zinder, President, UFCW Western States Council and UFCW Local 324. “As California continues to weather new threats brought on by the delta variant, and as we work towards a life after COVID-19, we must prioritize safe working conditions that prioritize workers’ health and wellbeing. However, we can’t do that if our enforcement agency lacks the resources to do its job. That’s why SB 606 is so important - the one inspector per 100,000 workers Cal/OSHA currently has to enforce worker safety laws is woefully insufficient. SB 606 will help save Cal/OSHA resources when citing employers that flaunt workplace safety rules, and we’re proud the Legislature has joined us in support.”
“Workplace safety must be a top priority for California as the pandemic continues to threaten workers across the state,” said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski. “We applaud the Legislature for passing SB 606 to give Cal/OSHA the ability to vigorously enforce our workplace health and safety regulations and impose real penalties on flagrant violators that endanger lives. We urge Governor Newsom to swiftly sign this important measure into law.”
"These common sense reforms will strengthen Cal/OSHA’s ability to deliver real protections from COVID-19 and other workplace hazards that California workers deserve," said Stephen Knight, Executive Director with Worksafe. "We call on Governor Newsom to sign this bill and ensure that Cal/OSHA has the necessary tools to hold employers accountable for workplace health and safety violations."
Senator Gonzalez represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes the City of Long Beach and portions of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles including the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, and South Gate. Senator Gonzalez lives in Long Beach with her husband Adam and three sons.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council is the regional coordinating body of 11 UFCW local unions representing over 200,000 workers in California, Arizona and Nevada. The Council is a part of the 1.2 million-member strong UFCW International Union. UFCW members are standing together to improve the lives of workers, families, and communities.
The California Labor Federation is made up of more than 1,200 unions, representing 2.1 million union members in manufacturing, retail, construction, hospitality, public sector, health care, entertainment and other industries.
Worksafe is a California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting people from job-related hazards and empowering us all to advocate for the right to a safe and healthy workplace. For more information, visit www.worksafe.org.