A bullet hole is seen on a French window of a furniture store in Anaheim, Calif., on Feb. 11, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a scaled-down bill into law Sept. 30 requiring employers to develop workplace violence plans amid heightened concern about public safety.
Senate Bill 553
—authored by Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose)—originally would have prohibited employers from asking workers to confront shoplifters as part of such plans. California cities have seen a rash of retail thefts by organized groups in the past few years, prompting some backlash from business groups.
More than 50 state and national organizations—including the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, and the California Retailers Association—were against the measure when it included the prohibition.
Mr. Cortese claims the measure became the target of a misinformation campaign this year initiated by large corporations opposing alterations to federal and California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health—known as Cal/OSHA—so-called Injury and Illness Prevention Plans.
Cal/OSHA enforces work safety standards, and provides enforcement and training. It requires every employer to develop and implement an injury and illness prevention plan.
The bill was amended Aug. 28
and stripped of the provision that prevented employers from asking staff to confront shoplifters.
According to the senator, he began developing the legislation after a 2021 mass shooting at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority rail yard, located in his district in San Jose. During the event, a 57-year-old transportation employee shot and killed nine other workers before committing suicide.
“On that horrible day, we quickly realized how safety protocols can and must be enhanced,” Mr. Cortese said in a statement
Saturday. “In the following days and months, more solutions for preventing workplace violence emerged. SB 553 is the result of a months-long negotiation between workers, businesses and Cal/OSHA. This groundbreaking law will help workers and employers establish a plan for the types of workplace violence that are on the rise.”
For six years, Cal/OSHA has worked on a workplace violence prevention plan for businesses. The new law will accelerate the creation of that plan, Mr. Cortese said.
The law adds more requirements for employers to include in their already-mandated state injury and prevention plans including effective workplace violence prevention plans that are written, available, and easily accessible at all times. Employers will also have to record violent incidents, and provide training to workers.
The law takes effect July 1, 2024.
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union members applauded the new law, which is sponsored by the union and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.
“UFCW members have had to deal with six years of deadly and traumatizing incidents,” said John Frahm, acting president of UFCW Local 5, in Mr. Cortese’s statement
. 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.”