The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to create an Office of Labor Equity to improve working conditions — focusing first on food service, domestic and personal service workers.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who recommended the new office, said it is intended to stem the tide of Americans quitting their jobs in what has been called the “Great Attrition” or the “Great Resignation.”
Kuehl pointed to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 400,000 Californians and 4.3 million Americans left their jobs in August. Some analyses attribute the moves to low wages and inadequate benefits, worker protections, flexibility and respect on the job.
“How can employees feel valued if their employers put employee health at risk by failing to enforce vaccination or mask mandates, don’t pay a minimum wage or fail to pay overtime?” Kuehl asked. “Employers need to understand the root causes of The Great Attrition and step up to provide a high level of workplace safety, wage compliance and flexibility to their workers. L.A. County’s recovery will not go well if workers continue to leave our local economy.”
Los Angeles County’s unemployment rate in September — the latest available data — was 8.2%, higher than the statewide average of 7.5% for the same period.
The Office of Labor Equity is an effort to centralize the county’s worker protection and enforcement efforts, beginning with three low-wage industries:
- workers in private households, including domestic work;
- personal and laundry services including hairdressers, manicurists and massage therapists; and
- food service including fast food workers, cooks and food preparers.
Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who co-authored the motion, said changes must be made.
“The status quo isn’t working. This is about responding to the valid demands for better wages, stronger protections and higher quality standards for our workforce with a sustained commitment to equity,” Mitchell said.
A report is expected back in four months.