How California’s Garment Worker Protection Act Affects the Apparel Industry
On September 27, California Governor Gavin Newsom passed a bill that will require garment factories across the state to pay minimum hourly wages in addition to providing workers with other benefits. Known as the Garment Workers Protection Act, Senate Bill 62 abolishes piece-rate payment which paid workers based on the number of pieces they could complete in a certain amount of time.
Supporters of the law see it as a way to protect garment workers.
âGarment workers and their advocates say the current system was designed to incentivize rapid production while exploiting workers, most of whom are immigrants and women of color,â journalist Paulina Velasco noted in The Guardian. .
The law is designed to help ensure that workers are paid what they are owed and to create a safer working environment.
“California holds corporations accountable and recognizes the dignity and humanity of our workers, who have helped build the world’s fifth-largest economy,” Gov. Newsom said, according to Reuters.
Another piece of the law will hold companies accountable for any unpaid wages at their factories. Currently, many brands rely heavily on outsourcing and have multiple layers between them and the employers who oversee factory workers.
While support for the bill is widespread, some brands oppose it in part because of this component. Some believe it will hurt fashion companies and the state, as manufacturers would rather leave California than reimburse contractors’ salaries, which in turn could lead to job losses.
When we made $ 15 in California, we meant $ 15 for ALL workers. The #GarmentWorkerProtectionAct is a step towards correcting historical inequalities. https://t.co/vLencsv1Ol # FightFor15 pic.twitter.com/qpEjUyAIhb
– Fight for 15 (@ fightfor15) October 3, 2021
“While well-intentioned, the bill, as currently drafted, would impose unprecedented joint liability on companies that have no control over garment workers,” said Nate Herman, vice-president. chief policy officer of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, in a statement. “If this provision were to become law, it would drive clothing manufacturing out of California and result in the loss of jobs in the clothing manufacturing industry in California.”
While the law is unlikely to have a significant impact on screen printers and other clothing decorating businesses, it could have minor ripple effects. A number of industry apparel suppliers and wholesalers do some level of manufacturing in California, including American Apparel and Bella + Canvas.
âIt is essential that our members continue to educate themselves on any legislative and regulatory issues that could potentially impact their business,â Marci Kinter, vice president of government and regulatory affairs for PRINTING United Alliance, told Promo Marketing. “While this new California law may not have a direct impact on a traditional printing operation, owners / operators may see increased costs in their supply chains and may need to adapt accordingly. . “
Rising costs and other supply chain issues are, of course, one of the hottest topics in the global economy as a whole. Between sudden closings and strict regulations overseas and U.S. ports facing historic freight backlogs, the new laws are just one factor contributing to the challenges the apparel industry already faces.
Still, most believe that the Garment Workers Protection Act will have a positive impact overall.
“The sustainable business community wants a level playing field, enabled by strong labor laws, because we believe it is crucial for California fashion to flourish into the 21st century,” a coalition of previously wrote. ‘at least 70 fashion companies in a letter to the California Chamber of Commerce.
SB 62 will come into force on January 1, 2022.