Senator Cortese’s Statement on Assembly Appropriations Committee Passage of SB 553: Preventing Workplace Violence

Senator Cortese issued the following statement on the passage of SB 553 from the Assembly Appropriations Committee, a bill to protect workers from workplace violence:

“The origin of SB 553 came from the 2021 massacre at the Valley Transportation Authority railyard in my legislative district of San Jose. I visited the crime scene that day, met with victim’s families, and swore I would do everything in my power to help workers prepare for outbreaks of senseless violence,” said Senator Cortese (D-San Jose). “This pioneering legislation is the product of collaboration and compromise among business and labor groups. Our focus remains on keeping workers safe and protecting business assets. We expect to maintain this collaborative spirit through the passage of SB 553 and beyond, as Cal/OSHA continues rulemaking on this issue. We applaud the Assembly Appropriations Committee and ask the legislature and Governor to approve SB 553 and protect workers and businesses.”

Senate Bill (SB) 553 requires employers to develop their own workplace violence prevention plans as part of their Cal/OSHA Injury Illness Prevention Plan. Employees must be informed of these plans and prepare accordingly.   

These workplace violence prevention plans:

  1. Require all employers to maintain a Violent Incident Log of all violent incidents against employees as well as post-incident investigations.
  2. Require staff to know how to obtain help from the law enforcement or staff assigned to respond to workplace violence emergencies.  
  3. Allow an employee representative to be a petitioner for a temporary workplace violence restraining order.
  4. As part of maintaining the currently-required Injury Illness Prevention Plan, identify those responsible for implementing the plan, including roles, trainings, and protocols for assessing and reacting to threats of workplace violence. Employers must annually review the plan.
  5. Require employers to explain to employees how to report violent incidents without fear of retaliation, and how their concerns will be addressed.
  6. Lay out procedures for responding to violent emergencies, including alerts about emergencies, feasible evacuation or sheltering plans, and obtaining assistance from staff, security, or law enforcement.

SB 553 is sponsored by United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The bill has no business opposition. In recent days, the following organizations removed their opposition from the bill: California Retailer’s Association (CRA), California Chamber of Commerce and its attached coalition, American Petroleum and Convenience Store Association (APCA), and the California Downtown Association. 

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 would accelerate the creation of this standard by placing it into effect on July 1, 2024. From there, Cal/OSHA will continue its rulemaking process with input from workers, employers, and the public, refining a standard that keeps workers safe. 

This year, Senator Cortese has also brought business and labor together to negotiate on behalf of flight attendants and motion picture workers.

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: