Gavin Newsom rebuked by California newspaper: “Should be ashamed”

California Governor Gavin Newsom is facing rebuke from The Los Angeles Times over the state’s delayed enactment of indoor workplace standards to protect workers from extreme heat.

In 2016, California legislators passed a law that would require employers to provide cool-down areas, water, rest breaks, air conditioning and schedule adjustments to employees if temperatures exceed 82 degrees in indoor work environments. This would ensure their workforce do not suffer health conditions due to extreme heat.

However, the LA Times on Friday published editorial stating that these standards have faced years of delays due to state officials’ “ineptitude” in enacting the policy. The law stated that regulators should have submitted the standards to a board appointed by the governor in 2018, but these standards have stalled, according to the publication.

“Thanks to ineptitude by state officials, California is heading into another summer without rules to protect the nearly 1 million people who labor inside sweltering warehouses, boiler rooms, kitchens and other facilities,” it read.

The editorial board described the policy as “humane and reasonable,” writing that state regulators being “so far behind” their adoption is “unacceptable.” The board called out Newsom, viewed as a rising star in national Democratic politics, and other state officials for the delay.

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California on May 2, 2023. Newsom faced criticism from The Los Angeles Times over delays in adopting heat safety standards for…

“State officials, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose office recently boasted that no other governor has done as much to protect people from extreme heat, should be ashamed. Oregon became the first state to adopt heat protection rules for indoor workers in 2022, just 10 months after the devastating and deadly heat dome the year before,” the editorial reads.

Newsweek reached out to Newsom’s office for comment via email.

The opinion piece comes just weeks before summer arrives in California, a state that frequently sees temperatures reach the 80s and 90s throughout the months of June, July and August. Advocates say this extreme heat poses a threat to workers inside warehouses that may not have ventilation to prevent overheating.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extreme heat can pose several dangerous risks including heat exhaustion, rhabdomyolysis, heat syncope, heat cramp or heat rash. It can also cause heat stroke, which can be deadly.

The standards have recently been delayed amid concerns about how much state agencies may have to pay to make changes if the standards were to be adopted.

The newspaper reported in March that the standards could cost agencies billions of dollars. That month, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health passed the standards despite concerns from the Newsom administration, but the Department of Finance needs to approve them before they take effect, according to the editorial.

“State leaders still seem to be treating extreme heat like a low-priority concern, rather than the increasingly deadly hazard it is. Programs to respond to extreme heat, for instance, are among the billions in climate-related cuts Newsom and lawmakers are planning to deal with a $45-billion budget deficit,” the editorial reads.

In 2022, Newsom signed several pieces aimed at helping Californians deal with extreme heat, writing in a statement at the time that the state is “taking aggressive action to combat the climate crisis and build resilience in our most vulnerable communities.”

Those bills would create an advisory committee for a study on the effects of extreme heat on workers and the economy, create an extreme heat advance and warning system, commission a review about the impacts of extreme heat on perinatal health and allow cities and counties to create “climate resilience districts,” according to a press statement.

In April, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health suggested the rules could continue but make exceptions for state prisons, conservation camps and local jails due to implementation challenges, PBS News reported.