Topics: News, Press

Senate Ensures Workers are Protected from and Trained for Violent Incidents on the Job

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

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 unacceptable that workers in California wake up each morning afraid that they will be assaulted or killed on the job and won’t make it home that night,” said Jim Araby, director of strategic campaigns, UFCW Local 5. “Last year, a UFCW Local 5 member unfortunately didn’t get to go home after his shift because he was shot and killed during an altercation with an assailant who was in the alcohol section stealing liquor. Essential grocery workers are trained to sell food to customers, not to stop shoplifting and prevent active shooter situations. We’re glad the Senate stood up for workers and passed SB 553 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 second 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. 

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May 31, 2023

Contact: Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620, [email protected]