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During Governor Gavin Newsom’s daily COVID-19 press briefing he announced that he signed an executive order providing essential workers in the food industry two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave.
The Executive Order for Food Chain Workers applies to essential retail businesses with more than 500 employees including farms, agriculture, food packing, food delivery, and fast food etc.
Both the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 President John Grant and California Grocers Association President Ron Fong endorsed this announcement during the press briefing. Fong expressed his concern stating, “The top priority of every grocery store has always been the health and safety of our employees and our shoppers which has…increased importance during this public health crisis.”
Realizing how many people are choosing to continue to come into work Newsom expressed his gratitude stating, “A lot of folks could have easily dialed in, file for unemployment insurance, call it a day, wait for this thing to pass. But, there’s dignity with work and no one that I know of in this essential work force has done that and with dignity comes respect and admiration…you’ve done it at a great cost, put your personal health on the line every single day…I just want to compliment you for holding that line and continuing to help us reduce our own stresses.”
While closing the briefing, Newsom paused and said, “I heard a few grocery workers, say this ‘We’re called essential workers, but increasingly we feel like we’re disposable’” He responded to the comment expressing, “I want you to know you are not disposable, you are essential, and you are valued.”
It was also emphasized that California is not finished dealing with coronavirus as some hospitals were using up to 80% of their ventilators and there are still over 9,357 ventilators ready to be used in the CA hospital system.
Continuing to stress how COVID-19 is effecting California, Newsom explained that in “San Joaquin Valley right now in a very large food distribution center, where we have 51 positives, one individual has passed away in a facility that has over 1,700 workers. It just reinforces the anxiety people have that may not have basic care, basic sick leave and so what this is, is supplemental, it does not negate any existing benefits that are afforded nor does it negate the work that’s done in a number of cities.”
The executive order aims to help relieve stress from essential workers so that they do not have to fear staying home and therefore losing income if they are not feeling well.
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