Topics: News, Press

Senate Labor Committee Protects Workers from Violent Incidents on the Job

Sacramento, CA – Today, working people with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) applauded the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee for passing SB 553 (Cortese) to 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.

“On June 5 2022, Safeway worker Manuel Issac Huizar Cornejo was shot and killed during an altercation with an assailant who was in the alcohol section stealing liquor,” said Hector Moreno, a member representative at UFCW Local 5. “When I arrived at the store in San Jose, I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to hear. I talked to two workers who had seen Manny get shot and they were in complete shock and disbelief at what had happened. Some workers ran up to Manny to help him, some workers went to hide, but none of them were prepared for that violent incident that night. Grocery workers are trained to sell food to customers, not on how to handle shoplifting and active shooter situations. Workers should not have to wake up each morning afraid that they will be assaulted or killed while at work. We’re glad the Senate Labor Committee 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.1 Last year, the F.B.I. said more than half of active shooter attacks occurred in places of commerce, including stores.2 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. 

“On May 26, 2021, AFSCME members were on the scene for one of the Bay Area’s deadliest mass shootings at the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority rail yard in San Jose, resulting in ten deaths, including AFSCME Local 1101 member, Paul Megia, who tragically lost his life. Unfortunately, many people across the state and this country are victims of workplace violence,” said Alia Griffing, Legislative and Political Director for AFSCME California. “With the rise of violence in workplaces, we must act swiftly and diligently to prevent more tragedy. SB 553 provides workers with the assurance that safeguards exist to assist them when a violent incident occurs and maximizes safety in the event that they are faced with dangerous situations.”

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April 12, 2023

Contact: Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620, [email protected]