California workers say little has changed since Cal/OSHA’s emergency COVID-19 safety rule went into effect

California
Plexiglass dividers at a meatpacking factory in Livingston, Calif., give workers a little more than three feet of space, according to this photo, which is included in a United Farm Workers lawsuit against Foster Farms. (Oscar Mejia / United Farm Workers)

Plexiglass dividers at a meatpacking factory in Livingston, Calif., give workers a little more than three feet of space, according to this photo, which is included in a United Farm Workers lawsuit against Foster Farms. (Oscar Mejia / United Farm Workers)

As California became the national epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the final weeks of 2020, state officials adopted sweeping emergency measures meant to protect workers.

But implementation of the new rule has been a letdown, further casting doubt on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ability to wrangle a virus that has killed tens of thousands of Californians.

Low-wage workers facing recurring outbreaks on the job say little has changed in the two months since the measures took effect. Union leaders fault the painfully slow rollout to long-standing failures at California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, which oversees worker safety.

Business groups — pushing back against the idea that workplaces are fueling the spread of COVID-19 — are seeking to reverse the measures, which require detailed protocols for masks, social distancing, virus testing and ventilation.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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