Protecting farmworkers during the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has become a priority for California lawmakers. In addition to his executive actions, Governor Newsom has signed 2 new bills that will help farmworkers stay safe.
The first, Assembly Bill 2043, will fund a bilingual outreach campaign, educating farmworkers on safety measures, as well as state and federal guidance by Cal/OSHA. The campaign will also help farmworkers understand paid sick leave and workers’ compensation benefits as they relate to COVID-19. Passed with bipartisan support, the bill also instructs Cal/OSHA to enforce its COVID-19 protocol while tracking and reporting investigations in agricultural workplaces.
The second, Assembly Bill 2165, helps farmworkers in rural communities access courthouses. The bill accomplishes this feat by allowing the filing of electronic documents to expand to all state trial courts. Difficulty accessing courthouses has been an obstacle for many farmworkers and rural communities, but now farmworkers and residents online can access legal services online.
California’s Dedication to Farmworkers
COVID-19 has presented a myriad of problems and risks for California farmworkers. According to a press release surrounding California’s Farmworker Relief Package, farmworkers in Monterey County are 3 times more likely to contract coronavirus than those in the general population, and a UCLA study shows Latino deaths have quintupled since May.
Fortunately, state officials have recognized and tried to remedy many of these ills. In July, Governor Newsom announced the “Housing for the Harvest” program to help workers quarantine and self-isolate. The Governor also took steps to provide farmworkers with more personal protective equipment (PPE) and increase COVID-19 testing. Earlier in the pandemic, Newsom also passed Executive Order N-62-20, which gave all essential employees a workers’ compensation presumption for COVID-19.
Lawmakers call California COVID-19 Farmworker Relief Package “a major victory for California’s most vulnerable essential workers,” and hope the new bills will save lives.
AB 2043 went into effect immediately and “provide[s] our farmworkers with the access to the information they need to protect themselves, their coworkers and their families from infection.”
At Reed & Garcia Law, P.C., we are proud of our state’s dedication to farmworkers. We also understand that laws, like those for workers’ compensation, do not always work as written. As such, we dedicate our practice to enforcing laws in civil court and helping farmworkers and other vulnerable populations recover from injuries and illnesses.
If you’ve been affected by COVID-19 or another workplace illness or injury, please do not hesitate to contact us at (888) 487-8133 or send us a short message online.
We offer free consultations and services in English and Spanish (hablamos espanol y ofrecemos consultas gratuitas).