On Tuesday, September 1st the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will deliberate on a motion which would require a third-party labor organization to liaise with and coordinate your employees as “health councils” to audit your business compliance for the county Health Officer Order (HOO) for Reopening protocols during COVID-19. The motion is also asking for the Department of Health to create an implementation plan, and for legal counsel to prepare the draft ordinance to be considered for approval on September 29th.
I have attached the motion, Agenda [Item #24 on page 22-23], and instructions on how to submit comments in writing and/or live over the phone to voice your opposition to this onerous piece of legislation. It is absolutely critical that we vocally and strongly express our concern to a motion that literally pulls critical resources from both our cities and businesses while adding a new layer of suffocating bureaucracy at such a vulnerable time when we are all struggling to survive.
Below is a list of talking points for those that are planning to speak at the meeting. This is Item # 24, so it is likely that it might not happen until later in the day. Please feel free to use these or your own to express your opinion.
Opposition Speaking Points:
The Business Community strongly believes the public and employees should be able to easily report any violations of HOOs, and that businesses play an important role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, the proposal would create yet another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy that would:
1. Duplicate, while not improving, reporting systems already in place. Per the existing HOO directive, any employee in LA County can call the hotline at 888.700.9995 or email the PHD at: Email@ph.lacounty.gov to report perceived violations of the HOOs. There is another hotline number and email for the public. BOTH reporting systems ARE ANONYMOUS and completely protect workers and the public from any potential retaliation.
2. Cost the County (and businesses!) precious funds. The existing County costs of hotlines and emails are minimal, and both the implementation and ongoing costs of this new layer of reporting bureaucracy would cost millions of dollars in addition to potentially millions of dollars of payroll costs to individual businesses. We believe that public money that would be better spent enforcing HOOs on egregious violators through the hiring of new health inspectors and/or supporting cities (of whom only 4 LA County cities received federal funds through the first two emergency bills passed by Congress) and their own Code Compliance divisions.
3. Violate existing labor agreements. Businesses that have labor agreements have established and highly negotiated procedures for workplace reporting issues.
4. A “third party” organization is another unneeded, costly level of reporting that would interfere with and confuse established protocols and with lines of communication; and could potentially expose employers to violations of the California Privacy Act
5. Further hamper already devastated businesses from economically recovering. The last thing a business needs now is another layer of bureaucracy to contend with in addition to more payroll costs and liability exposure.
6. Enable complaint driven enforcement to potentially be weaponized. County inspectors investigative process would be further subject to unsubstantiated or false complaints by disgruntled employees and/or 3rd part labor organizations. Employers already carry full liability for employee safety through existing Workers Comp regulations and general California employee labor liability.
Instead of the proposed “Health Councils” we recommend the following:
1. Businesses have a reporting mechanism and process in place for employees and patrons to report HOO violations, and how they are educating employees and public.
2. Empower local control for Incorporated Cities – Work with local code enforcement divisions in cities within LA County to create process and audit system for compliance and reporting
3. A business identifies a COVID Safety Supervisor on site (similar to OSHA reqs. for construction and manufacturing) The HOO’s already require businesses to assign a business contact to be responsible for HOO compliance and for reporting to County inspectors. The County should continue to require businesses to use existing staff as “Autonomous COVID-19 Compliance Officers” to work directly with employees across all departments and the DPH.
4. Direct Hire of more Health Department staff – This alternative proposed program will not be implemented in a timely manner and will further be delayed by many legal challenges
Follow up - When you do take some action, please send me an email and let me know what action you all took. I am trying to keep track of all of our outreach.