Opinion Editorial by Robert Acosta published in the Bakersfield Californian on June 12, 2021
California’s Central Valley has some of the highest unemployment rates in the state and it’s the reason Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his first State of the State Address in 2019 that he was committed to unlocking the enormous potential of the Valley. Coming out of the pandemic, the Central Valley is working hard to get back on its feet and we’re encouraged that the state Legislature recently passed a host of bills to protect workers from facing unemployment amid the pandemic. Yet it’s baffling that a legislator would introduce Senate Bill 419 authored by Sen. Henry Stern of Los Angeles — a bill that puts Central Valley workers in the state’s oil and gas industry out of work in the most disadvantaged region of the state.
Senate Bill 419 displaces thousands of Central Valley workers and fails to take in account the years of job training, education and experience that many hard-working Central Valley oil and gas employees have gained throughout their careers — deeming them unqualified for jobs that they’ve been doing safely for decades.
California’s oil and gas industry supports millions of jobs in the Central Valley — with 1 in 7 workers in Kern County working in a job connected to the oil and gas industry. And that number doesn’t even consider surrounding businesses that benefit from this economic activity. For example, a local restaurant owner recently shared that his restaurant could face dire consequences if there is a drop in oil and gas workers in the area. We’re his customer base. In the Central Valley, we produce more than 80 percent of California’s oil and gas. While this legislation was introduced under the guise of safety, it fails to consider that the oil and gas industry is already one of the safest industries in California and the nation.
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