The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (board) on June 9 held an emergency meeting to take testimony from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Cal/OSHA and stakeholders regarding the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 emergency temporary standards (ETS). During this extraordinary meeting, CAWG Director of Government Relations Michael Miiller strongly urged the immediate repeal of the ETS. “I assure you – the ETS is an epic failure,” he said.
Miiller’s full testimony:
Good evening. My name is Michael Miiller with the California Association of Winegrape Growers.
Today I am asking that you carefully consider the information from CDPH and Cal/OSHA and that the ETS be repealed at the June 17 meeting. Instead, the board should follow your staff’s recommendation in November to rely on Cal/OSHA and CDPH to effectively adopt and enforce guidelines.
This is consistent with what the Biden administration just announced today, and I ask you to follow President Biden’s leadership.
One week ago, very few California employees had any awareness of this board. Today, the board is incredibly unpopular.
While this is not a popularity contest, keep in mind that the public doesn’t draw a distinction between this board and the rest of the Newsom administration. Consequently, your unpopularity creates a huge problem for Gov. Newsom.
When Californians read news from this board, what they hear is the Newsom administration says that wearing masks at work may be here to stay. They also hear you advising vaccinated employees that vaccines are not enough. This is because you are telling them that their unvaccinated co-workers create a workplace hazard even to vaccinated employees.
Contrary to what the proponents of the ETS are telling you, this message from the Newsom administration is not well-received by the general public.
Gov. Newsom is doing tremendous work in getting people vaccinated. Dr. Aragon just made it clear to you that the governor’s vaccine efforts are saving lives. Consequently, Californians need to be able to continue to rely on Newson’s leadership. Putting a speed bump in the road to reopening, this ETS creates public doubt and erodes public trust.
A week ago, this board rejected readoption of the ETS and then reversed itself only a few minutes later. You were clearly struggling to make an appropriate decision.
It seems clear that the biggest problem in the debate last week was that some board members erroneously believe the ETS to be effective. However, I assure you – the ETS is an epic failure.
California is where we are today in spite of the ETS, not because of it. The ETS has nothing to do with California’s successes.
If you really want to make the workplace safe from COVID, get on the same page with Gov. Newsom in his efforts to vaccinate California employees.
And please repeal the ETS.