What does the historic Garment Workers Protection Act mean for the fashion industry? – shiny
Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Garment Protection Act (SB62) into California law on Monday. As a worker-led bill, it will allow more than 45,000 workers to receive a minimum wage of $ 14 an hour, which is the current minimum wage in the state. One of the key points of the legislation is that fashion brands will now be liable for wage violations at California factories, a point of difference with most laws governing brands and self-reliant supply chains. generally rule. This too includes the establishment of a special account for clothing which will be managed by the labor commissioner and exempt if wages or benefits are not paid.
According to the Garment Workers Center, one of the main drivers of the law, Los Angeles has the highest concentration of workers in the garment industry in the United States, with some 2,000 manufacturers employing more than 40,000 workers. In a statement, the governor said: âCalifornia holds businesses accountable and recognizes the dignity and humanity of our workers, who have helped build the world’s fifth-largest economy. The bill has received the support of more than 140 members of the business sector, from fashion brands such as Reformation, Doen, Mara Hoffman, Eileen Fisher and For Days.
Vanessa Barboni Hallik, CEO of sustainable luxury brand Another Tomorrow and supporter of Bill said: âInitially, the signing is a wake-up call. [call] – one of many globally – that deeper change and greater accountability are coming for the industry. We also have to remember that this is always a starting point: SB62 brings us to minimum wage in California, when a living wage should be a basic right for everyone in the supply chain. of fashion. Creating legal liability is much easier to do in a national context and, given the global and fragmented nature of supply chains, we really need cross-border liability mechanisms, similar to what has been discussed in Europe. ”
Although more than 97% of clothing sold in the United States is made overseas, according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, there is a growing interest in American fashion production due to human rights concerns in places like China. California law could become the model for fashion production in the United States. The Garment Workers Protection Bill was also sponsored by State Senator MarÃa Elena Durazo (D), former vice-president of the Unite Here union. Durazo said in a statement that the legislation “will level the playing field for ethical manufacturers doing the right thing.” For too long, the makers of bad actors have exploited garment workers working in unsanitary conditions for as little as $ 5 an hour, âDurazo said.
The issue of garment workers’ rights has also gained momentum in other parts of the world. The fashion industry employs 40 to 60 million people in the world, of which 60% live in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). These regions have not yet changed their pay-as-you-go model which has been found to have a negative impact impact on the health of garment workers. In Germany, a similar proposal to the one set up in SB62 in California was shut down last year by the Federal Department of Economic Affairs and Energy. It reached an agreement in February 2021. It will come into force in 2023 and will affect around 600 companies with 3,000 or more employees. In 2024, it will apply to 2,900 additional companies with more than 1,000 employees. The law provides that fines will be imposed, starting from several hundred euros, if it is found that subcontractors violate human or environmental rules, including workers’ rights. Fines go up to 2% of annual turnover if they exceed 400 million euros, making large companies prime targets.
These advances towards wage regulation within fashion supply chains show that the industry is beginning to change the regulations that have been in place for more than 50 years, even as production has shifted to a more globalized model. Considering the response needed for bigger change, Hallik said, âConsumers and investors must also start demanding change and shifting the bar. This is arguably more difficult to accomplish, compared to talking about recycled materials or circular business models, as it has a very direct impact on your cost base. “
But, she said, âif we really care about human dignity, we have to get there. Culture is a big part of that, and we’re currently operating at very low levels of awareness of these issues. So there is a lot to be done in terms of education and activism.