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8 Sep 2021

Sam Dean & Suhauna Hussain, Los Angeles Times

USA: California State Assembly passes SB 62 act to prevent wage theft & end piece-rate system

“Bill to stop clothes companies from stealing garment worker wages passes California Assembly”, 8 September 2021

Factory owners in California’s garment industry have gotten away with illegally paying workers below-minimum wages for decades.

A bill that cleared a major hurdle in the Assembly...aims to change that, requiring apparel factories to pay garment workers an hourly wage and aiming to hold big businesses accountable for labor practices under their watch. SB 62 will head back to the state Senate for final approval before going to the governor’s desk for signature.

By requiring an hourly wage, the bill bans the long-standing piece-rate system...while allowing employers to still offer productivity-based incentives to workers.

It would also allow workers to claw back stolen wages from big fashion brands and retailers, instead of having to go after the small garment factories that those larger companies hire as subcontractors to keep costs low...

The bill will return to the state Senate for a final vote to approve the amendments that were added in the Assembly, the most significant of which was a compromise with the bill’s opponents that removed liability for damages and penalties for brands and retailers...

SB 62 proposes that fashion brands be held legally responsible for the full amount of harm done to a worker, even if other brands were also responsible in some part for that harm, functionally making them accountable for any work performed within their supply chain.

Once the worker is wholly compensated, fashion labels could negotiate among themselves to ensure each entity pays its corresponding share. To protect their financial interests, brands might begin to require that contracted producers carry bonds or insurance to cover any wage claims.