Public Health Councils Program Protects Essential Workers

by raymond on January 28, 2021

Over the past year, essential workers across many industries have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. From the roller coaster of uncertainty and changing restrictions, to the fear of contracting the virus in unsafe working conditions, the workforce of Los Angeles has been challenged like never before.

That’s why the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, in partnership with Liberty Hill Foundation, is launching the Public Health Councils (PHC) program to serve workforces in prioritized sectors that are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign to win this policy was led by many of our longtime community partners and allies including KIWA, LAANE, the Healthy LA Coalition, the LA County Federation of Labor

This new initiative is an extension of Liberty Hill’s longstanding commitment to economic justice. We actively support workers centers and worker-led campaigns, such as the successful Fight for $15 as well as the passage of the Los Angeles Wage Theft Ordinance and the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

The Public Health Council program will provide select Community Based Organizations (CBOs) with experience providing outreach to low-wage workers and advising them on workplace and health related issues with $150,000 to assist in establishing and supporting Public Health Councils in the food and apparel manufacturing, warehouse/storage, and restaurant sectors. These community organizations will also provide education and technical assistance directly to the essential workers as they form Public Health Councils. 

Public Health Councils are comprised of workers who conduct peer-to-peer education with their co-workers, identifying potential Health Officer Order (HOO) violations, and helping to increase compliance at their worksite. HOOs are mandated and legally enforceable local directives that businesses are required to implement to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in their workplaces and in the community.

Community-based organizations will also receive training and certification from the Department of Public Health to become Certified Worker Organizations (CWOs) including instruction about anti-retaliation protections, administrative and legal requirements and resources to support businesses with implementing health directives. 

Stay tuned for more info about how these Public Health Councils and the community organizations that support them will continue the fight to protect workers. 

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