Labor Day 2023

Highlights from the Labor Agency


As we celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers, here are some recent labor and workforce development highlights from our Agency and its departments, boards, and panels.

Advancing California’s Workforce & Funding Innovative Programs

Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF)

As part of the CERF program’s initial planning phase, 13 regions were awarded $5 million each to develop roadmaps, including a strategy and recommended series of investments to grow sustainable industries, diversify regional economies, and increase access to high quality jobs. Following the planning phase, the program’s implementation and pre-development phases will provide $500 million to fund projects identified by the regions.

The most-recent announcement was $39 million for economic development projects across the state that support California’s transition to a low-carbon, green growth future. These awards are an initial part of the implementation process. Find out more about CERF.

Equal Representation in Construction Apprenticeship grants

The Equal Representation in Construction Apprenticeship (ERiCA) grants help create training and career pathways for women, non-binary and underserved populations in the building and construction. The funds will be used to cover supportive resources for childcare, outreach and community building. 

Equitable Employment Opportunities

The California Workforce Development Board recently awarded more than $41 million to 18 projects across the state to advance High Road Training Partnerships (HRTPs) that move underserved populations into better jobs. Learn more about these HRTPs.

Apprenticeship Innovation Funding (AIF)

The DIR and DAS announced the first-in-the-nation registered apprenticeship formula funding: Apprenticeship Innovation Funding (AIF). This program will help fund and scale registered apprenticeship programs in new sectors for apprenticeships such as Information Technology, cyber security, healthcare, and more. AIF will deploy up to $55 million.

Healthcare Workforce Advancement Funding

The Healthcare Workforce Advancement Fund provides $25M in funding to train health and social workers. The training dollars would help to reduce resource challenges and provide the necessary structured support to build system-wide and strategic career pathways that lead to wage progression out of poverty and into earning livable wages.

Helping Underserved Populations Enter the Workforce

The Employment Development Department (EDD) recently awarded more than $11 million in grants to Employment Social Enterprise (ESE) organizations that will help transition underserved job seekers into the workforce. The grants will fund technical assistance, and the design and implementation of projects that will focus on placing California’s most vulnerable populations into employment, typically in a supported employment setting, to help them earn wages, build work experience, and improve job skills.

Job Training and Employment Services for English Language Learners

EDD recently awarded $17.9 million in grants to organizations that will expand English Language Learner (ELL) Integrated Education and Training (IET) programs across California. The grants will help people who have faced significant barriers to employment and community services, by providing employment-focused training designed specifically to assist them.

Social Entrepreneurs for Economic Development (SEED 2) Grant

SEED 2 grants support the entrepreneurship of immigrants and Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals who face significant employment barriers. The SEED 2 grant provides micro-grants, entrepreneurial training, and technical assistance to target populations to support them in starting or maintaining a small business aimed at addressing a social problem or meeting a community need. There are 14 Community Based Organizations that received SEED 2 grant contracts.

Workforce for a Healthy California

The Workforce for a Healthy California Initiative is part of the state’s broader strategy to build a health workforce that represents California’s diverse communities and provides people with the quality care they deserve, while addressing the growing workforce shortages throughout the state’s health and human services system. The Initiative’s goals are to:

  1. Expand the health workforce
  2. Create a more culturally competent and linguistically diverse workforce
  3. Expand the skill sets of the workforce
  4. Leverage health careers and jobs as a pathway for economic opportunity for diverse California residents

Workforce Literacy Pilot Program

$10M in funding to expand workplace literacy training. This program strives to expand workplace literacy training and provide immigrants, refugees or English Language Learners technology-focused training and English literacy training to elevate the skills of the current workforce.

Youth apprenticeship grants

California youth apprenticeship grants provide funds to eligible applicants for existing apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, or to develop new apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs to serve opportunity youth who are disconnected or are at risk of disconnection from systems like education, employment, housing and more. 

Improving Access to Government Services and Resources

15,000+ workers learn about their workplace rights through community outreach education and engagement

From January 1 to July 31, 2023, the DIR reached over 15,705 workers. Approximately 88% are considered vulnerable workers due to their job industry or low English proficiency. DIR interacted directly with these workers at more than 150 community outreach and education events, of which 129 were in or interpreted to Spanish, Tagalog, Mixteco, Purépecha, Zapotec, Hmong, Punjabi, Korean, Farsi and Chinese. Learn more about DIR Outreach.

CAL/OSHA expands presence in the Central Valley, Inland Empire, and Central Coast

Cal/OSHA is setting up temporary satellite offices and is in the process of establishing permanent office locations at the regional office in Fresno, high hazard office in Fresno, and district offices in Santa Barbara and Riverside. These new offices will represent an essential step in scaling our efforts to meet workers where they are, in the language they are comfortable with, to safeguard their health, safety and rights.

COVID-19 Workplace Outreach Project 

The California COVID-19 Workplace Outreach Project (CWOP), administered by the Department of Industrial Relations and funded through the Department of Public Health, partnered with 55 community-based organizations to continue mitigating COVID-19 in the workplace from July 2022 through March 2023. Through the program, they completed:

  • 640,000 two-way interactions with people
  • 252,000 education-focused interactions
  • outreach materials in 46 languages
  • 1.2 million campaign materials distributed to community members (flyers, door hangers, mailers)
  • 18,000 vaccine appointments
  • 5,000 activities hosted for workers and employers

Department of Industrial Relations  participates in more than 40 events at Mexican Consulates in California

The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and its representatives from Cal/OSHA, the Labor Commissioner’s Office and Division of Workers’ Compensation are scheduled to participate this year at 42 Labor Rights Week seminars, outreach events and media campaigns at all 10 of the Mexican Consulates across the state. DIR has participated in Labor Rights Week events every year since its inception 15 years ago.

Protecting California's Workers

California Labor Commissioner:

  • $1.47 million wage theft settlement reached with poultry businesses affecting more than 300 workers

The Labor Commissioner’s Office reached a $1.47 million settlement over wage theft citations issued against three client employers (The Exclusive Poultry, Inc., JT Foods Specialty, Inc., and D8 Poultry, LLC) and their owner Tony Bran based on violations committed by five Los Angeles-area poultry processors who underpaid more than 300 workers.

  • Airport catering company cited $1.2 million for not timely rehiring workers laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic

Flying Food Group LLC DBA Flying Food Group had violated the Right to Recall law, and the Labor Commissioner’s Office cited the catering company $1,190,500 in liquidated damages, $2,100 in civil penalties, and $27,730 in assessed interest for a total of $1,220,330. Liquidated damages and assessed interest will be paid to the workers upon collection. Civil penalties go to the State’s general fund. Cal/OSHA opened a complaint-initiated inspection on February 22, 2023, at the Inglewood worksite and cited the employer $11,615 in proposed penalties on August 2, 2023, for one serious category and five general category safety and health violations. The serious category citation indicated that the employer failed to ensure that all required exits were free of obstruction in the event of a fire or other emergency.

  • More than $33 million in recovered wages for workers during the current calendar year

As of July 31, the Labor Commissioner’s Office has during this calendar year recovered $25.6 million in wage claims, collected approximately $5.8 million in citations assessed following enforcement inspections (subject to change as reconciliations continue), and recovered $2.1 million in wages in retaliation complaint inspections.

  • Nearly $3 million collected in wages and penalties owed to 187 former tow truck drivers

The Labor Commissioner’s Office (LCO) has collected $2.9 million in wages and penalties owed to 187 former tow truck drivers, dispatchers and mechanics who worked for Pride Towing in Anaheim and Stride Towing and Recovery in Oakland. To date, 96 workers have received nearly $1.6 million in back wages and penalties. The LCO is searching for 91 employees who worked for the companies between June 15, 2014 and February 16, 2017 to provide them their earned wages.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Many workers whose employment or self-employment was impacted by severe winter storms and mudslides are now able to apply for federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits. The EDD administers these benefits, which are available to workers, business owners, and self-employed individuals who lost their jobs or businesses, or had their work hours reduced due to impacts brought about by the severe storms.

Heat illness prevention

Cal/OSHA Enforcement conducted 229 high heat inspections from April 28, 2023 through August 15, 2023 (the start of this year’s heat season), an increase of 27% compared to outreach activities completed at the same time last year. Cal/OSHA performs proactive inspections during times of high heat, and responds to individual complaints, strategically visiting worksites where workers are most exposed to severe heat illness, including in construction, agriculture, landscaping and warehousing. Preventive efforts are conducted year-round by holding multiple in-person and online training opportunities for workers, employers, worker advocacy groups and industry associations. Educational materials are available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Punjabi, Chinese, and other languages prevalent throughout California. Cal/OSHA also offers free business consultation services to employers to review and improve their heat illness prevention and other workplace safety and health programs. Learn more about the Heat Illness Prevention program. 

Free Legal Services for Undocumented Farmworkers

This summer the state unveiled a new $4.5 million pilot program to provide free immigration legal assistance to farmworkers who are involved in state labor investigations. This new program includes case review services, legal advice and representation by an attorney – all at no cost to farmworkers seeking assistance. Services are expected to begin later this year. Learn more about these legal services.