Electeds Need to Take Action to Protect Retail Workers

On Tuesday, retail workers, members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and allies rallied in Albany to push for the passage of the Retail Worker Safety Act. The bill, introduced by Sen. Jessica Ramos of Jackson Heights, seeks to protect workers from violent and dangerous incidents at retail stores.

Created in response to heightened rates of violence in stores across New York City and State since the pandemic — ranging from verbal harassment to threats to racially motivated assaults to shootings — the bill would create sensible measures to keep the workers who keep our city running every day safe. 

Retail employers with 10 employees or more would be required to create workplace violence prevention programs, including simple measures such as improving lighting, employee training, educating workers on de-escalation tactics and establishing emergency procedures, such as during active shooter drills. Employers would also be required to document any incidents of workplace violence and report them to a public database. Additionally, larger chain retail stores (those with 50 or more workers nationwide) would have to install panic buttons and some would be required to hire security guards.

As conversations of quality of life crime and shoplifting dominate political talking points, it’s time for politicians to take real action to support those most immediately affected by these incidents. The NYPD is not a private security force for large retail corporations and cannot be expected to operate as taxpayer-funded guards for giant chain retailers. Those employers need to start putting up the resources to take the most basic measures necessary to keep their employees safe in the workplace. It’s common sense, Albany needs to pass the Retail Worker Safety Act now!

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