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California Ends ‘Piece Rate’ For Garment Employees, Guaranteeing Minimal Hourly Wage


California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a invoice Monday that may require the state’s garment factories to pay staff a minimal hourly wage.

The legislation, often known as Senate Bill 62, bans the trade’s long-standing follow of “piece rate” cost, during which staff are paid in keeping with what number of models of labor they full in a sure period of time.

Critics say the piece price system forces staff to toil at unsafe speeds, and that it leads to many staff getting paid lower than the minimal wage. Underneath the brand new legislation, employers can solely use a chunk price system when figuring out bonuses.

The legislation additionally goes a step additional by placing trend manufacturers on the hook for wage theft violations on the California factories that produce their garments. Manufacturers sometimes depend on a subcontracting system, placing a number of layers of firms between themselves and the employers overseeing staff on the manufacturing facility ground.

The invoice was sponsored by state Sen. María Elena Durazo (D), a former vice chairman of the labor union Unite Right here. Durazo mentioned in a press release that the laws will “level the playing field for ethical manufacturers that are doing the right thing.”

“For too long, bad-actor manufacturers have exploited garment workers toiling in unsanitary conditions for as little as $5 an hour,” Durazo mentioned. 

Most garments worn by People at the moment are made abroad, however of these nonetheless made within the U.S., many come out of Los Angeles factories. Greater than 45,000 staff, most of them Latino and Asian immigrants, produce garments within the metropolis’s garment trade, in keeping with the Garment Employee Heart, an advocacy group that supported S.B. 62. Many find yourself being paid off the books.

The job tends to contain lengthy hours, low pay and loads of occupational hazards. A 2016 study by the College of California, Los Angeles Labor Heart, based mostly on surveys with staff, discovered that factories had been rife with mud, poor air flow and blocked exits. The research pegged the typical wage at $5.15 per hour on the time, saying “these severely sub-minimum wages are a direct result of piece rate system abuses.”

The U.S. Division of Labor typically cites L.A. garment factories for wage-and-hour violations, discovering instances of staff not being paid the minimal wage or not receiving extra time pay. The New York Instances reported in 2019 that “fast fashion” model Style Nova had its garments produced in services that owed nearly $4 million in back wages

over the course of three years.

For too lengthy, bad-actor producers have exploited garment staff toiling in unsanitary circumstances for as little as $5 an hour.
California state Sen. María Elena Durazo (D)

Enterprise teams opposed S.B. 62, however not as a result of it abolishes the piece price pay system. Somewhat, they didn’t like the way in which the legislation would maintain manufacturers extra accountable for wage theft in subcontracted services by tightening a associated legislation handed in 1999, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The California Chamber of Commerce had urged Newsom to veto the invoice, arguing that garment makers would take their enterprise out of state moderately than threat having to pay again wages for subcontractors. “It’ll be a lot easier for a retailer or brand to find a manufacturer located elsewhere, say, Arizona or Bangladesh, who won’t present these liability issues,” a weblog put up on the group’s web site learn.

S.B. 62 wasn’t the one notable labor-backed invoice to make into legislation on Monday. Newsom additionally signed Senate Invoice 639, which can finish the usage of “sheltered workshops” that enable a sub-minimum wage for staff with disabilities. 

Sheltered workshops are controversial however widespread within the U.S. Supporters argue that they supply alternatives to staff who may not in any other case have them. Nonetheless, teams such because the Nationwide Down Syndrome Society have referred to as for them to be phased out, saying they exploit susceptible staff with lowered wages.

California joins at least 10 other states on a path to eliminating sub-minimum wages in sheltered workshops. Underneath the brand new legislation, such services should pay staff at the very least the California minimal wage by 2025.

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