Topics: Uncategorized

Bill Protecting Workers from Workplace Violence Passes First Assembly Committee

Sacramento, CA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council applauded the Assembly Labor Committee for passing SB 553 (Cortese), which will require employers to implement basic protections to protect workers from violence while they’re on the job.

“Employers are putting workers at risk every day by failing to teach them how to handle shoplifters and other potentially dangerous situations. My co-worker Manny was shot and killed on the job by someone he suspected to be a shoplifter,” said Natalie Ucci, a grocery worker for 18 years and member of UFCW Local 5. “After Manny’s death, we were supposed to watch a video ‘training’ on how to protect ourselves from active shooters. It is now one year later, and many of us have still received no training. How many of us have to die before laws are changed to protect us?”

Over the last several years, reports of workplace violence from members have skyrocketed – now most of our members have been the victim of at least one incident of threatened or actual workplace violence and many intolerably experience workplace violence on a regular basis. Members have been robbed at gunpoint; they’ve been attacked physically, some to the point of needing to be hospitalized; they’ve been spat upon by people infected with COVID-19; they are routinely threatened with violence; and at some stores, members have even been murdered while performing their jobs.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous that workers in California like Manny don’t go home at the end of their shift because they’re required to confront suspected shoplifters,” said Jim Araby, director of strategic campaigns, UFCW Local 5. “SB 553 won’t preclude dedicated safety personnel from stopping retail theft, but it will prevent workers who go through the bare minimum training from putting themselves in potentially dangerous situations. Essential grocery workers are trained to sell food to customers, not to stop shoplifting and prevent active shooter situations. We’re glad the Assembly Labor Committee stood with workers today.”

Workplace violence incidents are becoming more prevalent across all different types of workplaces in California – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified workplace violence as the third leading cause of fatal occupational injury at the workplace and estimates that nearly two million workers are affected by workplace violence each year. Last year, the F.B.I. said more than half of active shooter attacks occurred in places of commerce, including stores. However, the California Division Of Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/OSHA) has yet to adopt a General Industry Workplace Violence Standard to protect workers on the job. Cal/OSHA adopted a Healthcare Workplace Violence Standard in 2017, but this standard only offers protections for healthcare workers, excluding most of California’s workforce. Six years is too long to wait for workers who experience workplace deaths, injuries, and incidents daily. 

# # #


June 28, 2023

Contact: Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620, [email protected]