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Article

29 Jan 2021

Author:
Liz Ohanesian, Los Angeles Magazine

USA: California Senate bill introduced to end piece rate practice & establish a fair minimum wage for garment workers

“For Garment Workers, Making Any Minimum Wage Has Been a Struggle. A California Senate Bill Aims to Change That”, 29 January 2021

Across the United States, the movement for an increase in minimum wage is growing, but for Los Angeles’ 46,000-plus garment workers, getting paid any minimum wage has been an ongoing struggle. Senate Bill 62, introduced by California State Senator Maria Elena Durazo in December, aims to change this.

One of the central goals of SB-62 is ending the piece rate practice, where, in lieu of an hourly wage, workers are paid per piece produced…

Piece rate work often results in wages that fall well below the federal, let alone city, minimum. According to Daisy Gonzalez, lead organizer for Garment Worker Center, workers can be paid as low as two cents per piece and will put in more than 60 hours per week…

A December report from Garment Worker Center noted that, on average, garment industry workers are earning $5.85 an hour through piece rates, with some wages falling as low as $2.68 an hour…

… [L]ayers of contractors and subcontractors … essentially shield the brand—who may be placing high volume, quick turnaround orders for low prices—from the responsibility of abiding by labor laws…

SB-62 also aims to close loopholes in existing laws that have allowed major brands to shirk responsibility for these practices…

All this has been exacerbated by the pandemic. A recent UCSF study indicated a 44 percent increase in death rates amongst sewing machine workers. Ironically, some of those workers might be making PPE in unsafe conditions…

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