By Andrea Baldrias
The Los Angeles Black Worker Center (LABWC) is leading the #LocalEnforcementNow movement to give Black workers a voice in support of the new legislation, Senate Bill 218, introduced by Senator Steven Bradford (D- Gardena).The legislation is focused on the exponentially high unemployment of Black workers and the increase of racial discrimination claims. SB 218 aims to expand worker’s civil rights by localizing the enforcement of workplace discrimination laws.
It affords municipalities the authority to enforce civil rights protections for workers employed within their municipal boundaries.The Los Angeles Black Worker Center combines systemic and collective approaches to engage employers directly and give workers more structure and power to gain access to quality jobs and challenge/remove systemic barriers to employment. The LABWC holds programs that promote access to quality jobs, racial equity in hiring and retention, discrimination-free job sites, and prepares Black workers for employment in high-wage, career-track jobs. They are one of the eight National Black Worker Centers across the nation.The LABWC broke down each component of SB 218, and why it is a good thing for Black workers and workers as a whole.
First, the role of SB 218 is to remove state authority over all employment discrimination claims and sanction the local enforcement of employment discrimination claims. This means that workers can file through their local governments directly and through a free administrative process. The current process only gives workers the option to file online with state and federal agencies, which often leads to workers experiencing a costly and drawn out legal process.Second, it is beneficial for cities to have the power to investigate and provide solutions to employment discrimination claims. The local governments have a different relationship with local businesses and residents, which are the people who can best gauge community needs in regard to fair hiring practices. In that sense, it is important to shift the power to protect local workers into the hands of locals themselves.
Third, under SB 218 workers are still allowed to file with both the state and local offices. The worker has the option to find solutions through their local offices; however, this does bar workers from the ability to seek judgements rom both offices on a single complaint.Last, it is important to emphasize that the purpose of SB 218 is not to strip workers of their rights but expand existing rights. The local office will be able to seek solutions under state law.
The Los Angeles Black Worker Center commented, “All workers in California deserve employment opportunities and a fair and dignified workplace. But, the promise of opportunity hasn’t been the reality of Black workers. Black workers are being systematically pushed out of their jobs and careers…The underemployment of Black workers in professional jobs are direct effects of discrimination,” they continued. “Black workers are more educated than ever before, yet they still face persistent employment and pay gaps. Whether working full or part time, Black workers earn only three-quarters of what white workers earn.
For Black women, the wage gap is even more severe.”SB 218 was up for vote during the state senate’s judiciary committee hearing on April 23. On that day, the #LocalEnforcementNow movement caravanned to Sacramento to show support for the bill’s approval.
The measure will be an important first step in California’s localization of enforcing workplace discrimination laws and ensuring better protection for workers.For more information, or to find out how you can get involved, visit online at www.lablackworkercenter.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in Black Voice News.