Governor Newsom signs bill to expand protections for garment workers
Garment workers in California will be paid an hourly rate and receive other new protections under a law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday afternoon.
SB 62, which has faced strong opposition from fashion brands and trade groups, aims to overhaul a pay model for garment workers that has led to below-minimum wages in the industry. The law will extend the liability of fashion brands that have largely succeeded in avoiding liability for widespread wage theft by their suppliers.
“California holds businesses accountable and recognizes the dignity and humanity of our workers, who have helped build the world’s fifth-largest economy,” Newsom said in a statement. “These measures protect marginalized low-wage workers, many of whom are women of color and immigrants, by ensuring that they are paid what they are owed and by improving working conditions.”
California labor commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower, who was with the governor when he signed SB 62, in a post on Twitter called it “fierce leadership!” Inspired by all garment worker leaders who don’t give up.
The California Chamber of Commerce put the bill on its list of “job killers.” Since taking office, Newsom has only signed one so-called “job killer” bill per year.
Fashion brands and trade groups have said the law would make retailers unfairly responsible for the unpaid wages of third-party contractors over which they have no control and devastate the garment industry in Los Angeles, as the Fashion brands will increasingly seek to contract with manufacturers outside of California.
Newsom’s approval of the bill marks the end of a two-year campaign. SB 62 is a redesigned version of a bill that died in the last legislative session when, amid the pandemic, lawmakers failed to call for a floor vote before the midnight deadline.