Padilla, Chu Join Union Workers in Los Angeles to Push for Federal Heat Stress Protections
LOS ANGELES, CA — As temperatures soar to triple digits in areas of Southern California, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Representative Judy Chu (D-Calif.) were in Los Angeles today along with union representatives and workers to advocate for federal workplace heat stress protections.
Rising temperatures in California and across the country are increasingly dangerous for workers. Senator Padilla and Representative Chu discussed their bill, the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act, to protect the safety and health of workers who are exposed to dangerous heat conditions in the workplace across the nation. The bill is named in honor of Asunción Valdivia, a California farm worker who died in 2004 after picking grapes for ten hours straight in 105-degree temperatures.
“While workers face extreme heat amidst record heat waves, there is no federal standard to protect workers from these increasingly hazardous conditions,” said Senator Padilla. “A national heat safety standard is long overdue. That’s why I’m co-leading the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act in the Senate, alongside Representative Judy Chu, to protect the health and safety of our nation’s workers exposed to dangerous heat conditions.”
“In 2004, United Farm Workers made me aware of Asunción Valdivia’s story, a farmworker who died tragically from heat stress after picking grapes in 105-degree temperatures for ten hours straight,” said Representative Chu. “It was then I knew we had to act — and I am so proud of California for being the first state to adopt a heat standard to protect our workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has already recognized this alarming problem and has made strides forward to provide heat protections. However, I know we must do more, which is why I was proud to stand alongside Senator Padilla and union workers today in support of the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act, my bill to ensure our workers not only stay safe and healthy on the job but return home to their families each night. It is time for Congress to stand with our workers and pass this critical legislation!”
“The Heat Illness and Fatality Protection Act marks an important step forward for workers by ensuring that they're protected from, and educated about, the dangers of heat-related illness,” said Ron Herrera, President, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. “The workers whom we depend on to keep our society functioning, from those in warehousing to our drivers to our farm workers and our sanitation workers, every worker exposed to high heat conditions has the right to be informed of the risks, and have protections and emergency measures in place to keep them safe.”
“There’s no time to waste,” said Damon Nagami, a senior attorney with Natural Resources Defense Council. “The world is heating up and people’s lives are on the line. A set of national heat safety safeguards for outdoor and indoor workers is in the works. However, we need this bill to accelerate action because as with so many other environmental health harms, Black, Latinx, low wage, and essential workers are hurt first and worst.”
Senator Padilla has been a leading voice in pushing to expedite federal worker protections against heat stress. Last October, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began implementing Padilla’s plan to protect workers from heat hazards, publishing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings with provisions based on the Senator’s legislation. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued notice it is working on a federal heat stress standard for workers, but the agency takes an average of more than seven years to finalize new standards. The legislation would push for faster action by OSHA to protect our nation’s workers.
Workers can file confidential complaints to Cal/OSHA by calling 833-579-0927 and by visiting the Heat Illness Prevention resource page.
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.