By Sheri Williams
In late June, the Sacramento City Council passed a new safety measure in partnership with the Sacramento Central Labor Council to help protect essential workers during the pandemic.
Under the new ordinance, companies that received CARES Act funding must provide workers with safe workplaces under strict guidelines, or risk enforcement actions.
“This is a critical safeguard for Sacramento workers on the front lines of this terrible crisis,” said Sacramento Central Labor Council executive director Fabrizio Sasso. “Unions understand that our workers can’t do their jobs if they are afraid of taking coronavirus home to their families, afraid of contracting it themselves, and afraid of retaliation if they stand up for basic rights. This new ordinance will ensure that employers are accountable to their workers.”
The measure requires that employers adhere to social distancing measures both for staff and customers, as well as cleaning and disinfecting protocols as established by federal standards. That includes making sure that employees have access to handwashing with soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
The rules also require employers to have protocols in place if an exposure to COVID-19 does occur.
Employers must also regularly clean break rooms, locker rooms, dining facilities and other places where workers may congregate.
Employers must also provide masks to workers if they will be unable to properly social distance.
Workers must be informed of these protections in writing.
The measure also ensures that covered employers must provide 80 hours of paid sick leave for full-time employees in most circumstances for those exposed and in need of quarantine, or for those caring for an exposed family member. The paid leave also covers employees who are over 65 and may be vulnerable, and those who do not have access to childcare because school or daycare is closed because of the virus.
The city also recently funded a new worker hotline to help local workers who may be unsure of their rights or facing employer discrimination. The hotline is a partnership between the Labor Council and the Center for Workers’ Rights. That hotline recently received $50,000 in additional funding to ensure its continued operation.
“We are excited to be helping our local workers understand and locate resources that could aide them in this time of need,” Daniel Urbana, executive director of the Center for Workers’ Rights, told media. “Our goal is to provide timely, practical and accurate information for workers to determine their next steps.”