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California employers must reimburse expenses for certain remote workers, lawyers say

in Business
(Vera Petrunina / Shutterstock)

Months after workers left the office to work from home, they are racking up out-of-pocket costs. And experts say businesses should not ignore the issue of who is paying those expenses.

Global Workplace Analytics surveyed employers Sept. 16–25 and found 82% of employers believe they should absorb home office costs.

“Before COVID, employees who worked from home generally saw it as a privilege and didn’t expect their employer to cover their home office expenses. The survey shows that sentiment has shifted during the pandemic,” Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics.

While this might seem like an expensive proposition, Global Workplace Analytics sites a positive return on investment.

Continue Reading on Northbay Business Journal

The Restaurant Industry Needs Indigenous Farm Workers. Yet Their Fate Hangs in the Balance.

in People

Gray and white flakes of ash from the nearby Glass Fire flutter down as I speak with Gervacio Peña Lopez, the executive director of Movimento Cultural de la Unión Indígena and a Mixteco farm worker. We are wearing masks, sitting six feet across from each other outside the organization’s headquarters in Santa Rosa, CA. Lopez is bemoaning the compounding, paralyzing difficulties that Indigenous farm workers have had to deal with this year. First, the pandemic and the susceptibility to infection, with living and working in crowded spaces and without access to PPE. Second, a fire season that has become synonymous with the grape harvest season, filling the air with toxic ash and smoke. Third, the election. An overwhelming majority of farm workers cannot vote because they are undocumented—yet their wages and protections hang in the balance.

“Our people take a lot of risks because they need to make money, but there’s more competition. People who lost jobs in other industries are coming to work here. Children [of farm workers] are coming to work with their parents because there’s no school and the workers can’t afford childcare. Employers are reducing our hours so they don’t have to pay overtime. So, we are afraid to complain,” says Lopez. California grows two-thirds of the country’s fruit and nuts and one-third of its vegetables. It is where the impacts of the pandemic, the fires, and the looming election have befallen society’s most crucial yet vulnerable: our farm workers.

Continue Reading on Bonappetit

A Just Recovery for Sonoma Vineyard Workers?

in People

Last year the trade publication Wine Enthusiast recognized Sonoma County as the ‘Wine Region of the Year,’ and the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association announced that 99 percent of the county vineyards achieved their ‘sustainability’ certification. But the county’s farmworkers­­­­­–who produce the wealth of the wine country–are mostly invisible to the public. Winegrowers and the media rarely recognize the actual value of their labor, and their contribution to the local economy is seldom acknowledged.

Most county farmworkers do not earn a living wage or receive employer-provided health insurance, lack access to affordable housing, and confront dangerous health and safety conditions on the job. A just, equitable and, sustainable recovery from the 2017 and 2019 wildfires must include new public policy and grower initiatives to improve the economic security and general health of farmworkers.

Nine out of 10 Sonoma County farmworkers are employed in the wine industry. Farm labor analyst Don Villarejo examined the U.S. Department of Agriculture 2017 Census and calculated the average hourly wage for a county farmworker employed directly by a farm operator for at least 150 days was $15.43 an hour; the weighted annual average income of all farmworkers who were used by growers and farm labor contractors was $21,920–these figures are likely slightly higher today due to recent increases in the minimum wage and new overtime requirements for farmworkers.

Continue Reading on LA progressive

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