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Temp Worker bill awaits Gov. Brown’s signature in California

The clock is ticking.

Shortly before adjourning for the year, the California legislature passed a landmark bill which offers key health and safety protections for temporary and contract workers. Now the legislation is on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, awaiting his signature or veto.

AB 1897 will aid workers like Jose Gonzalez Jr,
who is a temp worker at Taylor Farms
in Tracy, California.

California COSH partners WorkSafe and SoCalCOSH were active players in a statewide coalition of labor and safety advocates helping to push AB 1897 through the legislature. CA Assembly Member Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) who sponsored the bill, says its goal is to prevent “unscrupulous employers” from using “the subcontracted model commonly known as ‘perma-temps’ to avoid accountability in the workplace.”

This bill focuses on companies that choose to use labor contractors to supply workers to do the work of their regular course of business… This bill simply clarifies who can be held liable for specified violations. The bill protects workers from exploitation and abuses resulting from a new business model that we are seeing proliferate across all industries as we begin to emerge from the economic recession.

National COSH is urging Gov. Brown to promptly sign the bill, which would make California a national leader in adapting its laws to a changing economy.

“[I]ncreased reliance of staffing agencies means that temporary workers are at increased risk of suffering on-the-job injuries,” writes National COSH Executive Director Mary Vogel in a letter to the governor.

Employees of staffing agencies are more likely to be injured on the job, often on the first day of an assignment, than are direct hires… Often temp workers are assigned to jobs for which they lack adequate training – sometimes with fatal consequences. When accidents occur, host employers and staffing agencies each claim the other had responsibility for compliance with health and safety laws.

The California Chamber of Commerce fought hard to kill the bill, but unions and safety advocates successfully persuaded the state legislature that it was time to update the state’s employment law to reflect current labor market realities.

The California Labor Federation, which pushed hard to get the bill passed, is now urging Gov. Brown to sign it.

In a subcontracted workplace, workers who are injured or have wages stolen from them are often left to wonder “Who’s the boss?” when employers and subcontractors point the finger at each other instead of respecting workers’ basic rights. By holding corporations and subcontractors jointly liable when wrongdoing occurs, temporary workers will have a new measure of protection on the job.

Under California law, the governor has until Sept. 30th to sign the bill, veto it, or let it become law without his signature. You can voice your opinion on AB 1897 using this contact page on Gov. Brown’s website.

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