SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Confrontations with downtown Sacramento transients on state property has California state groundskeepers growing concerned, and now they’re taking action to protect themselves.

This comes after several groundskeepers were recently attacked by transients.

The union that represents groundkeepers at the state capitol has formally filed a health and safety grievance, requesting that employees are provided with pepper spray.  The International Union of Operating Engineers reports that of the 20-person downtown groundskeeper staff, five employees have been assaulted in the past three months, all by homeless assailants.

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The attacks range include being punched, scratched, having items thrown at them, and having their hair pulled.

According to the complaint, groundskeepers are requesting that the state provide pepper spray, training on how to use it, and develop a policy on when they can use it. They’re also requesting that the state provide the union information about assaults against groundskeepers, and for those groundskeepers who are assaulted, paid time off to recover from their injuries.

“We’re finding ourselves in new territory,” Local 39 Union spokesperson Brandy Johnson said.

Union representatives are now asking the groundskeeper’s Department of General Services for all incident reports related to the assaults, for extra security, and the opportunity for the groundskeepers to carry pepper spray.

The groundskeeper attacked while working in the area around the war memorial is still recovering. He has not been back to work since the attack.

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