SACRAMENTO, CA - You can't argue with the idea that the California Legislature has seen some strange things across the State Capitol steps.
Chalk another one up on the board.
In February, State Sen. Kevin DeLeon, D-Los Angeles, introduced SB 432, which once deciphered would require every single hotel in California to switch to fitted sheets.
DeLeon said the bill isn't about fitted or flat sheets, it's about worker safety.
"To trivialize that they are often injured on an annual basis is quite unfortunate," said DeLeon.
He and lobbyists argue housekeepers are forced to lift heavy mattresses 20 to 30 times every day to tuck the flat sheets underneath.
"We don't want workers having to bend over and pick up a 200-pound mattress," said lobbyist Michael Herald.
The bill reads as a workers safety bill, and also introduces legislation forcing hotels to offer cleaning tools with long handles -- essentially long enough so workers wouldn't have to bend over.
Since its inception, the bill has received overwhelming media coverage and criticism.
It has also been amended to ease some of the restrictions -- now allowing hotels to find a tool, like a wedge, to help lift the mattresses. Hotels could also cut the number of rooms cleaned per day by an individual housekeeper.
The California Hotel Association is trying to kill the bill, saying it won't decrease injuries, but will increase costs.
"There is absolutely no scientific proof that fitted sheets are safer than flat sheets," said Randi Knott with the hotel group. "If there were, we'd be using them already."
Pointing to roughly 750,000 hotel beds in the state, Knott said the changes would cost $30 million to $50 million for the hotel industry.
She also questioned how fitted sheets would make a difference -- citing housekeepers will still have to lift the mattress to tuck the top sheet.
"If the intent is to increase worker safety, that's fine. This won't do it," Knott said.
Knott and the DeLeon do agree on one thing though: Cal-OSHA should have the final say.
DeLeon admitted the bill is intended to force discussion with the agency charged with worker safety and that the bill's language is not set in stone.
By Nick Monacelli, firstname.lastname@example.org