Worker's Rights

Public Health Councils Highlights

November 29, 2022
By Andres Magaña

In partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LAC-DPH), Liberty Hill launched the Public Health Councils (PHC) program in 2021 - the first of its kind in the nation - to help ensure that employees in prioritized industries remain protected by Los Angeles County Health Officer Orders (HOO) and safe from COVID-19 or other health emergencies in their workplaces and communities.

Public Health Councils—composed of workers in the food manufacturing, apparel manufacturing, warehouse and storage, grocery retail, and restaurant sectors—conduct peer-to-peer education with their co-workers, identify potential HOO violations, and help increase compliance and COVID-19 vaccination rates at their worksite. To implement program work, Liberty Hill subcontracted Community Based Organizations to serve as Certified Workers Organizations (CWOs) and provide outreach, education, and technical assistance directly to the PHCs.

As of the end of September, CWOs formed a total of 60 Public Health Councils which reached more than 12,900 employees and held over 1,110 conversations across a total of 159 unique employers.

Public Health Councils also submitted nearly 40 formal complaints to the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, Department of Environmental Health, or the California Bureau of Field Enforcement for issues related to sanitation, HOO violations, workers’ compensation, and employer retaliation.

Approximately 244,000 businesses in LA County are regulated by the County’s HOOs, making the work done by the Public Health Councils important to ensuring that all businesses follow public health directives. The program has also fostered better communication practices between LA County workforce and the Department of Public Health (DPH).

DPH has started to help CWOs mediate and navigate roadblocks experienced with filing complaints, by scheduling joint meetings with other county departments to move work forward. Liberty Hill and DPH also dually provide support, resources, and guidance related to organizing workers. The LAC-DPH has expanded the Public Health Councils program scope of work to include outreach and education on Monkeypox and hopes to extend the contract for another 6 months to June 2023.

Discussions are also in place to find ways to connect the Public Health Councils program to larger policy advocacy like minimum wage increases or extended sick pay for Monkeypox or COVID-19.

To learn more about Liberty Hill worker rights services visit the Economic and Housing Justice section of our website.