Sacramento, CA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council applauded Governor Gavin Newsom for signing SB 553 (Cortese) into law. SB 553 will require employers to implement basic protections to protect workers from violence while they’re on the job, which includes developing and implementing a workplace violence prevention plan, logging incidents in a violent incident log, and providing workers with workplace violence prevention training.
“UFCW members have had to deal with six years of deadly and traumatizing incidents,” said John Frahm, acting president, UFCW Local 5. “This is simply too long when our members go to work every single day worried about if they will come home at night to their families. With Governor Newsom’s signature, this bill will make an extraordinary impact in workers’ lives and keep workers and customers safe. UFCW members across California applaud every UFCW member and worker who has come forward to tell their story to spread light on this issue and Governor Newsom for standing with working people today.”
Workplace violence incidents have become 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.
Over the last several years, reports of workplace violence from UFCW members have skyrocketed – now most of UFCW’s 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.
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.
SB 553 goes into effect July 1, 2024.
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