The new bill SB62 provides more protections for garment workers, including hourly wages.
In a step forward in the fight for workers’ rights, California has become the first state in the US to require hourly wages for garment workers. California Governor Gavin Newsom calls the new law “nation-leading,” as the standard payment practice in many garment factories is to pay per item of clothing produced. The low payout rates of piece-rate compensation plans, which often pay workers below the minimum wage, are a problem.
“California is holding corporations accountable and recognizing the dignity and humanity of our workers, who have helped build the fifth-largest economy in the world,” Newsom wrote in a press statement. “These measures protect marginalized low-wage workers, many of whom are women of color and immigrants, ensuring they are paid what they are due and improving workplace conditions.”
Fashion brands have voiced strong opposition to the new bill, SB 62. According to the 2019 report by the New York Times, some retailers that claim their “Made in America” tags are evidence of good work ethics and use the labor of low-paid garment workers in Los Angeles.
The bill, which also eliminates California’s piece-work compensation, extends liability for unpaid wages to fashion companies. This will help them to be held responsible. However, these protections do not apply to worksites with collective bargaining agreements.
After two years of campaigning, SB 62 was approved. This bill is a revised version of an earlier version that was not able to be voted on the floor during the pandemic.
“For too many years, bad-actor garment manufacturers have exploited garment worker toiling in unsanitary conditions for as low as $5 an hour,” stated Democratic State Senator Maria Elena Durazo. She hopes that her bill will “level the playing field” for ethical manufacturers who are doing the right things.