Greetings and all the best for 2021!
I am preparing, with mixed emotions, to leave my position as Director of the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Program and as faculty in the UCLA School of Public Health. I am proud of what we have collectively been able to accomplish while I also recognize the critical need to strengthen our efforts in the years ahead.
I want to thank the LOSH staff who have supported one another and renewed our commitment to workers as we faced the challenges of the past year. I thank our partners – some of the most dynamic and innovative leaders in the labor movement, the community, the university, and in our regional consortium – as well as our trainers and funders who make our programs possible.
Special thanks to former Director Marianne Brown and to long-time partner SoCalCOSH (previously LACOSH); both paved the way to bring me into the world of worker health and safety. And many thanks for ongoing support to the UCLA Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH), the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) and the Labor Center – and to our long-time funders, the NIEHS Worker Training Program and the CA Commission on Health & Safety and Workers’ Compensation.
I am deeply honored to have received the Change Maker award from the UCLA Labor Center and the first ever Eula Bingham award given by the National Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (COSH). I have been so inspired by the awesome worker activists who also received awards and by my work with all of you over the years to build a movement that advances worker justice and safe jobs.
Together with our partners, we have been able to:
- Expand LOSH programs to protect workers from emerging threats – the coronavirus, wildfires, extreme heat and more.
- Support workforce development and environmental justice organizations to create sustainable jobs for workers.
- Expand innovative projects to connect students and interns with worker organizations as part of the Occupational Health Internship Program.
- Conduct research to inform critical policy decisions to protect all workers and communities from heat, wildfires, refinery and warehouse hazards – and to extend protections for domestic workers and day laborers.
- Strengthen the network of health and safety activists, young workers, immigrant worker advocates and promotor@s in Southern California and create avenues for dialogue between workers and government agencies.
- Train small businesses to identify hazards and engage workers in more effective health and safety programs.
- Support innovative public health programs to confront the pandemic, educate employers and build worker leaders to stop coronavirus transmission in workplaces, families and communities.
- Speak out for racial justice in support of Black Lives Matter.
Our annual WMD event was particularly poignant this year. So many workers right here in Southern California are on the frontlines and we know workers of color are especially at risk. Workers are tragically exposed to unsafe conditions in our hospitals and schools. They lack protection as they grow, process and sell our food, make our clothes, pack and ship our products.
The pandemic has highlighted the cracks in our public health, economic, political and social systems, further widening the gap between those with access to resources and those who bear the brunt of economic injustice, racism, lack of political power, and inequitable access to health care and job protections.
We are saddened and mourn the many who have died in the past year – and we commit renewed efforts to embark on a new year together, a year that respects diversity, dialogue and justice for all workers.