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Sacramento, CA, July 29, 2020 – As hospitals are again facing a crippling shortage of capacity to care for a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, and health officials have pinpointed workplace transmission as a primary source of coronavirus transmission, the Assembly Labor Committee voted 5 to 1 in support of SB 275 by Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino). The legislation will equip California to meet future pandemic needs and avoid catastrophic shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare and essential workers.   

“An incompetent federal government and a catastrophic underpreparation for this pandemic are costing the lives of healthcare and frontline workers from all sectors and the communities we serve,” said Gabriel Montoya, an Emergency Room Technician at Kaiser Downey Medical Center. “The Assembly Labor Committee’s vote today is an important step to ensure that these deadly shortages of personal protective equipment never happen again.”

SB 275 requires health care employers to provide a three-month PPE pandemic supply to cover ALL healthcare workers, including lower-wage workers like janitors and certified nursing assistants who are more likely to be Black and brown. It also provides a state stockpile to ensure essential workers in frontline communities are never again left on their own, forced to make the choice between going to work and providing for their families.   

“Workers from all walks of life have risked our lives to serve our communities,” said Rodger Nunez, a Social Services Assistant in Riverside County. “We all deserve protection. We are grateful for the leadership of Senators Pan and Levya, whose bold and urgent legislation maintains California’s values in both public health and racial justice.” 

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SB 275 would prepare California to save lives in the next pandemic and help increase safety as California continues to grapple with this COVID-19 pandemic into the foreseeable future. SB 275 will:

  • Require healthcare employers to have a three-month pandemic level supply for all healthcare workers – including lower-wage workers like janitors, housekeeping, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and others that are typically Black and brown workers.
  • Require the state to create a stockpile for use during an emergency, which will help protect all essential workers, including healthcare workers.
  • Require that 25% of the PPE be produced within California to ensure that we won’t have to scramble for PPE or find ourselves completely at the mercy of unscrupulous suppliers.
  • Prioritize low-income, medically underserved areas to ensure communities of color have access to PPE if there is not enough to meet the need.

SEIU local unions in California are made up of over 700,000 nurses, healthcare workers, janitors, social workers, security officers, in-home caregivers, school and university employees, court workers, and city, county and state employees. www.seiuca.org