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Assemblymember Ortega and the California Labor Federation Introduce Bill to Teach Workers’ Rights to High School Students
AB 800 Would Create a “Workplace Readiness Week” for California High School Students to Better Prepare Them for the Workforce
SACRAMENTO – (Monday, February 13, 2023) – Today, Assemblymember Liz Ortega (D-Hayward) and the California Labor Federation announced AB 800, which will direct California high schools to educate high school students about workers’ rights on the job. The program will also include information about high-road apprenticeship programs that provide a path to a good career.
“Many students have to find jobs in high school to help their families make ends meet. They often experience sexual harassment, wage theft, and misclassification without knowing there are laws to protect them,” said Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, principal officer of the California Labor Federation. “This bill will ensure that as young people enter the workforce, they know about their rights to a fair wage, a safe workplace, and to join a union.”
Wage theft is prevalent throughout California and young workers are particularly vulnerable since they often do not know their rights or know what to do when their rights are violated. Many young workers aren’t aware of their right to refuse unsafe work or receive workers’ compensation benefits following on-the-job injury or illness. And even more don’t know they can organize a union with their co-workers.
“As a labor champion who has fought for workers for over two decades, I know firsthand how important it is to teach young workers their rights,” said Assemblymember Liz Ortega (D-Hayward). “By requiring that high school students be taught their rights as employees, AB 800 will empower them with the tools and knowledge to know their rights and advocate for themselves in the workplace.”
In addition, in immigrant families, many young people serve as translators and advocates for their parents, who are also disproportionately impacted by labor law violations. This bill would arm young people entering the workforce or assisting their parents with basic information about rights on the job, how to determine if they are being paid and treated fairly, and where to go to report violations.
“As a youth in a low-income community, I am ecstatic to see initiative taking place regarding youth knowing their working rights,” said Diane Nguyen, Hayward High School Junior. “Many of my peers have to take on jobs in order to help support their families which can lead to them being easily exploited in the workplace. I am very grateful to see Assemblymember Ortega take action in order to protect the youth in my community.”
To arrange an interview with Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, please contact Shubhangi Domokos at firstname.lastname@example.org or (916) 934-6963.
To arrange for an interview with Assemblymember Ortega, please contact Mary Virginia Watson at (210) 667-5046.
The California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO represents over 1,200 affiliated unions in California with over 2.1 million union members in trucking, retail, hospitality, janitorial, construction, health care, local and state government, education, arts and entertainment, warehousing and logistics, manufacturing, and a variety of other sectors.