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UC Student Researcher Union Recognized; Pork Processor Cited; Animation Guild Expands Beyond L.A.

Updated: May 25

January 14, 2022


Schwartz, Steinsapir Dohrmann & Sommers wishes everyone a happy and healthy 2022!



2022 BRINGS NEW LAWS TO PROTECT AND IMPROVE THE LIVES OF CALIFORNIA’S WORKERS

With the dawn of 2022 came several new California laws to raise wages, protect working people on the job, and prohibit abusive workplace practices. First and foremost, beginning on January 1, 2022, the statewide minimum wage in California rose to $15 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees. Labor was instrumental in enacting this increase in 2016. Beginning January 1, 2022, Cal/OSHA can now issue “enterprise-wide” citations to companies with a pattern of violations, without having to visit each one of the employer’s worksite and can issue “egregious” citations the death or hospitalization of a worker as a result of “willful” safety violations. SSDS assisted the UFCW in the development of this law in response to concerns we witnessed in the grocery and drug retail industry during the course of the pandemic. State law also now prohibits employers from terminating or disciplining warehouse workers based on unrealistic productivity quotas, such as those that do not allow a worker to take rest periods or that violate other health and safety laws. The new law, AB 701, also directs Cal/OSHA to establish safety standards for work speeds, recovery time, and repetitive motions in order to minimize injuries in the warehouse distribution industry. In addition, garment employers are now prohibited from paying a piece rate below the minimum hourly wage, and a phase-out begins of the sub-minimum wage for disabled workers. Read more here


 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA RECOGNIZES STUDENT RESEARCHERS UNITED, A UNION OF 17,000 WORKERS


In December 2021, the University of California finally agreed to recognize the union of 17,000 student researchers employed by the UC system. The decision came after nearly 11,000 student researchers across the state voted Nov. 19 to authorize a strike. Out of the members who voted, 97.5% voted in favor of a strike. The new unit, represented by Student Researcher United-UAW, represents the single-largest new union organized nationwide in 2021. SSDS congratulates the student researchers on this historic feat and looks forward to continuing to support SRU-UAW and its sister locals at UC during contract negotiations in 2022 to see their rights realized. Read more here

 


DOL CITES ONE OF LARGEST PORK PROCESSORS FOR EXPOSING WORKERS TO REPETITIVE MOTION INJURIES


An Oklahoma processing and packing facility – operated by one of the nation’s largest pork processors – failed to prevent workers from being exposed to repetitive motion injuries and did not record injuries that needed more than basic first-aid. OSHA cited Seaboard Foods LLC for a serious health violation for exposing workers to ergonomic hazards associated with repetitive motion and lifting. The citation follows a six-month OSHA inspection. The citation and the Union’s follow up is expected to result in major changes at the plant, including the reduction of injuries, increased access to medical treatment, and an enforceable ergonomics plan. UFCW Local 2 represents the employees at the Oklahoma pork-processing facility, and SSDS proudly assisted the Union in investigating and pursuing this groundbreaking ergonomics complaint on behalf of the workers. Read more here


 


ANIMATION GUILD EXPANDS BEYOND L.A. FOR FIRST TIME WITH UNIONIZATION OF ROBIN RED BREAST


The animation studio Robin Red Breast, an affiliate of Titmouse animation, voluntarily recognized The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, as the union for its 113 New York City employees, who include 3-D modelers, directors, storyboard artists, and prop designers, among others. Over 90 percent of eligible Robin Red Breast workers signed representation cards, which an arbitrator certified on January 7, 2022. The unionization marks the first time The Animation Guild has unionized a studio outside of Los Angeles County. The Guild’s business representative, Steve Kaplan, stated, “this historic moment is a cause for celebration as we begin a nationwide effort to ensure all animation workers are treated with respect and are afforded the same benefits and protections as those who are working in Southern California.” SSDS assisted the Guild in negotiating this historic voluntary recognition. Read more here

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