In her Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, Department of Industrial Relations Director Katrina Hagen outlined how Cal/OSHA has been reaching out to farmworkers under her leadership. The agency has partnered with farmworker advocacy groups to educate ag workers about their labor rights during the pandemic.

“We really needed to make a grand gesture,” said Hagen.

Staff held outreach events in Coachella, rented mobile billboards for two months, and led a caravan to various worksites alongside community organizations. Hagen said her staff engaged with the Ag Labor Board, CDFA and other agencies on outreach ideas.

The Senate committee unanimously approved her appointment.

Ag labor lawyers are skeptical, however. In a webinar earlier this month, Michael Saqui of the Saqui Law Group said the community groups and unions will not just be educating workers on COVID-19 protections.

“But probably educating them by saying that their employers are bad people and not doing enough for them and their families,” said Saqui. “We have to step up our game.”

He encouraged employers to deliver constant communication to their employees to inform them of steps already being taken to protect workers.