Becerra pens letter to Facebook + Bill would make employers report COVID-19 + Race and the environment

Eufemia Didonato

Good morning and happy Thursday. As the week once again draws to a close, let’s review the news, shall we?

AG CALLS ON FACEBOOK TO FIGHT HATE, MISINFORMATION

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has signed his name to a multistate letter calling on Facebook to take additional steps to combat hate and misinformation on the social media giant’s site.

“When Facebook profits off of hate, it is letting its platform be used to dehumanize and demean,” Becerra said. “The spread of hate and disinformation on social media puts our democracy and decades of advocacy work by Black Americans, Latinos, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, and many others at risk. If Facebook truly wants to be a place that brings people together, it must do more — Mark Zuckerberg must do more. We urge Facebook to take affirmative steps to join us in the fight to better tackle hate in our society and disinformation in our democracy. It will take all of us working together to make a difference.”

Becerra’s office cites recent surveys that found more than 40 percent of Americans have been subjected to some form of online harassment, “including criminal forms of harassment like cyberstalking, doxing, and swatting.”

The letter, among other things, calls on Facebook to aggressively enforce the company’s policies against hate speech and groups, allow public, third-party audits of enforcement, expand policies listing inflammatory advertisements that vilify minority groups and to strengthen filtering, reporting and blocking tools.

California joins 18 other states and the District of Columbia in writing the letter, which you can read here.

LAWMAKERS CALL FOR LAW REQUIRING COVID-19 NOTIFICATION

California employers should be required to notify their employees within 24 hours if an employee has gotten sick with coronavirus, three lawmakers said Wednesday.

“California’s frontline workers are caught between the risks of a deadly pandemic and the realities that can’t wait many more months: hungry kids at the table, rent coming due, and electric bills piling in the mailbox. These workers are predominately people of color,” said Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes, D-San Bernardino, in a statement.

Reyes is the author of AB 685, under which employers would be required to provide a 24-hour notice to all employees at a worksite should any worker be exposed to COVID-19 and required to report a workplace COVID-19 positive test, diagnosis, order to quarantine or isolate, or death that could be COVID-19 related to Cal/OSHA and the California Department of Public Health, according to a statement released by UFCW Western States Council.

Reyes was joined by Assemblyman Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, in championing the bill.

“Over 140,000 Latinos in California have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 3,000 have died – numbers grossly disproportionate to the population and make up the majority of our state’s low-wage workers,” Gonzalez said. “From our hospitals and grocery stores, to meatpacking plants, restaurant kitchens and countless other businesses, workers remain on the job to maintain our supply chain and then bring home the infection to their loved ones and others in the community. Without a requirement to report COVID-19 exposures, no workplace in California is safe.”

RACE, ETHNICITY PLAY ROLL IN VIEW ON ENVIRONMENT

Blacks, Asian Americans and Latinos are more likely to say that polluted air and drinking water is a serious health threat in lower-income areas than are whites, according to a survey from Public Policy Institute of California.

The survey found that African Americans (64%), Asian Americans (64%) and Latinos (66%) believe air pollution to be a serious health threat, compared to just 42% of white people. Likewise for water pollution, 63% of white people found it to be a serious health problem, compared to 69% of Black people, 73% of Asian Americans and 76% of Latinos.

Latinos were also more willing than other racial groups to make lifestyle changes to address global warming, the survey found. While 89% of Latinos said they would do so, just 62% of whites said they would, while 74% of Blacks and 70% of Asian Americans said they would be willing to make changes.

You can read the full post from PPIC here.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I am joining over 60 of my colleagues in calling for systemic change at @CA_EDD. We have seen little to no progress over the course of the pandemic & 1.13 million Californians are still waiting on benefits. The situation at EDD is unacceptable.”

– Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, via Twitter.

Best of the Bee:

  • Republicans are eyeing plans to add at least $200 and as much as $500 to weekly unemployment benefits for the millions of California workers without jobs in the coronavirus outbreak, via David Lightman.

  • The California state labor commissioner added on Wednesday two new lawsuits to the growing stack of state filings against Uber and Lyft, alleging that their drivers have long been mislabeled as independent contractors and denied fair wages and benefits by the ride-hailing companies, via Hannah Wiley.

  • Can’t get the help you need with unemployment benefits on the phones? An Employment Development Department will call you back — in four to six weeks, via David Lightman.

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