State labor officials and Central Valley community advocates discuss labor issues at UC Merced roundtable
State labor officials met with Central Valley community advocates Tuesday to discuss labor rights issues, including workplace health and safety, during a round table hosted by the UC Merced Community and Labor Center.
Brandon Hart is the program manager for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. He said the agency is preparing to propose its fourth emergency temporary standards, which are intended to protect workers against COVID-19.
“We anticipate that the board will adopt those revised standards, which will remain in effect through the end of the year,” Hart said.
He says the agency is also working to build on their relationships with community-based organizations to get critical information out to workers.
“We want to collaborate with the worker organizations and community organizations because you provide an additional resource to us that we don't already have,” he said, speaking to community leaders. “That’s the connection with workers directly.”
Community leaders also asked about the long wait times for wage theft cases to be processed. Hart said the agency is transitioning from manually inputting applications to online application portals to streamline the process.
“We also made a massive investment in training all of our deputy labor commissioners and hearing officers so that we can resolve cases at the conference stage, rather than having to go through a hearing,” he said. “Just waiting for a hearing can take anywhere from six months to 12 weeks.”
Officials from the state Labor Workforce Development Agency and Agricultural Labor Relations Board were also in attendance.