Governor Signs Senator Cortese's SB 553: Preventing Workplace Violence
Workplaces across California will begin making safety plans to prepare for potential outbreaks of serious violence following Governor Newsom’s announcement today that he has signed Senate Bill (SB) 553 into law, a measure by Senator Dave Cortese.
SB 553 requires employers to develop their own workplace violence prevention plans as part of their Cal/OSHA Injury and Illness Prevention Plans. Employees must be informed of these plans and prepare accordingly. Businesses must begin complying with the law on July 1, 2024.
“The journey of SB 553 began in the aftermath of the 2021 massacre at the Valley Transportation Authority railyard in my district in San Jose. On that horrible day, we quickly realized how safety protocols can and must be enhanced. In the following days and months, more solutions for preventing workplace violence emerged,” said Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose). “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. I applaud my colleagues and Governor Newsom for recognizing the necessity of this law.”
In response to the VTA massacre, Senator Cortese helped establish a “Worker Wellness Center” to support grieving VTA employees and their families. Last year, Governor Newsom signed Senator Cortese’s SB 1294, which established a plan to expand those transit worker wellness centers across the state. As a critical next step, Senate Bill (SB) 553 requires employers to include workplace violence prevention plans as part of their existing and required Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPP).
For six years, Cal/OSHA has worked on a workplace violence prevention plan for businesses known as the Workplace Violence General Industry Draft. SB 553 accelerates the creation of this standard by placing it into effect on July 1, 2024.
“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.”
SB 553 became the target of a misinformation campaign this year initiated by large corporations opposing any alterations to the IIPP. To eliminate any confusion regarding the bill's purpose, and as part of a negotiation with Cal/OSHA, Senator Cortese removed all references to shoplifting. Articles disproving falsehoods and correcting the public record were published by USA Today, the Associated Press, and Politifact. Every business group formally withdrew its opposition from the final bill.
SB 553 is sponsored by United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
Senator Dave Cortese represents Senate District 15, which encompasses San Jose and much of Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley. Visit Senator Cortese’s website: https://sd15.senate.ca.gov