San Jose Program Seen As Model In Protecting Latino Grocery Workers

SAN JOSE (KCBS) – There’s a new effort underway in San Jose to protect workers at Latino grocery stores with a first-of-its-kind program which may become a national model for workplace safety in the immigrant community.

At the Mexican Consulate in San Jose on Wednesday, immigrant and labor leaders put the spotlight on workplace safety at “mercados” or ethnic grocery stores.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

“A lot of these workers are getting injured or killed on the job at a much higher proportion than workers in any other industry,” said Jose Benavides with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Benavides said they are launching a program in San Jose to train grocery store workers on how to protect themselves on the job.

“There are a lot of potential illnesses and injuries in grocery stores that people don’t think about,” he said.

Ron Lind, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 5, said this effort is much more than just a training program.

“This will not only just provide health and safety training, it will also build an ongoing culture around it,” said Lind. “We’re training workers to train other workers so it’s for the long run.”

Workers will also be informed of their rights on the job. The pilot project will start in San Jose, but organizers said that if it proves to be successful, it will become a national model.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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