News

Monday, January 22, 2018

Several produce and farm labor contractors are contesting fines they face in connection with two separate pesticide drifts in the Central Valley that sickened close to 130 agricultural workers last year.

In August the Kern County agricultural commissioner issued more than $50,000 in fines against two firms, including Sun Pacific, the produce company behind the popular Cuties oranges, for violating pesticide rules in an incident that sickened 37 farmworkers near the town of Maricopa in May.

Investigators determined that Vulcan, a pesticide with the chemical chlorpyrifos, had drifted a half-mile from a seedless tangerine field into an area where cabbage-harvesting employees were working.

The commissioner, Glenn Fankhauser, fined Sun Pacific more than $30,000 for violating five pesticide laws, including a violation for improperly spraying Vulcan.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

On Tuesday, California lawmakers took steps to add stricter penalties for pesticide drift violations in the state. With a 5-0 vote, members of the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee moved AB 1419 forward, signalling support for the health and safety of California farmworkers and farming communities.

Protections for farmworkers

The bill, which was authored by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), gives the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) authority to issue larger fines to companies that violate rules around pesticide spray and drift, endangering the health of farmworkers and surrounding communities.

Quirk introduced the bill in response to four separate drift incidents this year in the state that had farmworkers fainting and vomiting, some receiving medical attention. One August incident in Kern County had up to 92 workers exhibiting symptoms of pesticide exposure.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The small cell wireless antenna legislation has seen some success nationwide, but it has also prompted local governments to voice concern around the loss of control.

To hear a wireless trade group tell it, deploying small cell antenna technology will enhance a city’s ability to compete in the next 5G technology race that pits the United States against the likes of China, the European Union, Japan and South Korea.

Small cell antennas are defined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as low-powered wireless base stations that typically provide coverage for targeted indoor or localized outdoor areas ranging in size from homes and offices to stadiums, shopping malls, hospitals and urban outdoor spaces. The towers are roughly the size of a shoebox.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Two California state lawmakers Wednesday introduced a bill that would require hotels to provide housekeepers with a "panic button" to prevent violent assaults and sexual harassment.

Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, jointly introduced the so-called hotel maid "panic button" bill with Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward. If it gets passed, it would make California the first in the nation to have a statewide law requiring hotels to provide employees working alone in guest rooms with a panic button.

Also, the California bill would impose a three-year ban for any guest accused of violence or sexual harassment against an employee and keep a list of those accusations for five years.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Maids and other hotel employees who find themselves alone in rooms with guests in a daily basis often face high incidents of sexual harassment, surveys have found.

And with the issue of sexual harassment casting a large shadow over the state Legislature this year, a bill co-authored by Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk would require hotels to provide workers with panic buttons in the event their safety is at risk.

The bill, co-authored by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), was introduced Wednesday during the Legislature's first session of the new year.

In addition to mandating the use of panic buttons, typically easily concealed, hand-held communication devices, the bill requires hotels to maintain a list of guests banned due their indiscretions, provided the allegation includes a statement made under penalty of perjury, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

California lawmakers are exploring a bill that could help keep female hotel workers safer from sexual harassment. Many hotel workers in other major United States cities are already wearing a panic button. According to a recent survey of about 500 hotel workers, almost 50 percent reported some kind of sexual harassment of assault by guests, including men answering the door naked or assaulting the female workers in the room. Assembly member Bill Quirk of Hayward co-sponsored the bill, which is set to be introduced Thursday. If it becomes law, California hotels and motels would be required to provide hotel workers with the panic buttons. Sharon Katsuda reports (Published Wednesday, Jan 3, 2018)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Alarmed by a survey indicating sexual harassment of hotel housekeepers is widespread, a California state lawmaker on Tuesday proposed requiring employers to provide “panic button” devices to their employees so they can summon help if abused by a guest.

The bill to be introduced Wednesday by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) would also require individual hotels to impose a three-year ban on guests who engage in harassment on the property.

“We want to protect our most vulnerable women  workers, hotel maids who are going into rooms alone, from sexual harassment,” said Muratsuchi, who co-authored the bill with Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward).

The legislation signals that concerns over sexual harassment that dominated the state Legislature last year will continue to be an issue for lawmakers as they begin the new legislative year Wednesday.