SACRAMENTO — On International Workers’ Day, Governor Gavin Newsom today recognized the contributions and sacrifice of California’s essential workforce, including health care workers, farmworkers, grocery workers, teachers, care givers and countless others keeping the state operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor highlighted state resources available for essential workers and resources for those who may have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
“This May Day is particularly special as we recognize essential workers who go to work every day to ensure that Californians are cared for in our hospitals and nursing homes and in their own home, and that we can all access essential services like food, child care and utilities during this challenging time,” said Governor Newsom. “At the same time, many California workers have been displaced and are struggling to get by. Today we thank our essential workers and let those who have been displaced by this virus know that we see you, we appreciate you, and we have your backs.”
During his daily press conference, the Governor outlined actions the administration has taken to support workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Worker Support and Safety
Child Care Funding: The administration has created an additional 20,000 limited-term child care slots for lower-income families and launched a new portal to help connect parents with 28,611 local child care options.
Paid Sick Leave for Food Sector Workers: The Governor took action giving two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave to certain food workers, including farmworkers, restaurant and grocery store workers to allow them to quarantine or isolate.
Hotel Rooms for Health Care Workers: The administration worked with FEMA to allow health care workers to access hotel rooms at no or little cost to protect their families or isolate if they test positive or have been exposed to COVID-19. To date, 7,709 reservations have been made, representing 87,814 nights that have been reserved.
PPE for Health Care Workers: The state received its first shipments of surgical masks totaling 8.3 million over the past few days and very quickly shipped them out to hospitals and health care facilities.
Food Worker Hand-Washing Breaks: The Governor issued an executive order increasing health and safety standards by permitting workers at food facilities to wash their hands every 30 minutes, or as needed.
Food Trucks at Public Rest Stops: Caltrans has approved 14 permits to date, allowing truck drivers to access food while working, and employing food truck workers.
Overtime Funding for Social Workers: The Governor, using funds appropriated by the Legislature under SB 89, provided overtime funding for social workers, which has allowed them to conduct critical outreach to vulnerable adults. These social workers have since reached out to over 173,000 at-risk older Californians who are IHSS recipients.
Cal/OSHA Guidance: On April 2, the Administration provided Cal/OSHA guidance to help protect agriculture, logistics, grocery and health care workers.
California Health Corps: On March 30, the Governor launched the California Health Corps to enlist health care professionals with an active license, public health professionals, medical retirees, medical and nursing students, or members of medical disaster response teams in staffing the surge in COVID-19 patients.
Stipends for SNF workers: California is providing $500 stipends to licensed vocational nurses and certified nursing assistants at skilled nursing facilities.
Support for Workers Who have Lost Their Jobs Due to COVID-19
Expediting Unemployment Insurance Claims: The Governor directed the Department of Labor to waive the traditional one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance and State Disability Insurance. The Governor also ordered additional staff support at call centers to manage the increase in claimant filings.
Worker Training and Support: The Governor deployed $17.8 million in workforce development funds to support California workers impacted by COVID-19 across the state. The funds will support direct payments to dislocated workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic for costs associated with transportation, housing, child care, and food.
Garnishment Action: On April 23, the Governor took action to prohibit the garnishment of individual relief assistance under the CARES Act, effectively ending debt collectors from garnishing benefits.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: On April 28, EDD stood up a one-stop shop for individuals applying for unemployment insurance and the new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
Creating Good Jobs through Food Programs: The administration has partnered with local governments to create food programs that employ laid off restaurant and hospitality workers in good jobs to serve seniors and other vulnerable Californians.