By Clarissa Rios and Amy Fullerton
SACRAMENTO, CA – Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed 18 worker protection bills into law, an historic action designed, said the bills’ authors, to help keep workers safe, end unfair pay practices, and require that garment workers are paid an hourly wage.
The garment industry has long practiced piece-rate compensation. This involves paying workers less than minimum wage as workers before were being paid depending on how many pieces they finished making.
Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) wrote SB 62 to end that practice of piece-rate compensation. Her measure also affects fashion brands by increasing their liability for unpaid wages.
And, in an effort to protect workers even further by implementing additional safety and health guidelines for Cal/OSHA to follow and educate employers and employees, Gov. Newsom also signed SB 321 into law, which is written to protect workers with disabilities by barring employers from paying those with disabilities less than minimum wage.
“California is holding corporations accountable and recognizing the dignity and humanity of our workers, who have helped build the fifth largest economy in the world,” said the governor, adding, “These measures protect marginalized low-wage workers, many of whom are women of color and immigrants, ensuring they are paid what they are due and improving workplace conditions.”
Senator Durazo applauded Gov. Newsom for taking this pivotal step to, “safeguard legal wages and dignified working conditions for this highly skilled workforce and level the playing field for ethical manufacturers that are doing the right thing.”
Just last week the governor signed AB 701 into law. The bill by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzales (D-San Diego) established new guidelines for warehouse companies. The companies have to disclose production quota descriptions to workers and are prohibited from utilizing algorithms that disrupt resting periods.
In addition to signing AB 701 and other worker guidelines into law, Newsom also inked AB 1003 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), which will hold employers accountable for misdemeanor of felony wage theft.
AB 73, authored by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), was also signed into law. It promises to protect farmworkers from wildfire smoke.
In the last decade, the bill’s author notes wildfires in California have become increasingly more frequent and deadly. AB 73 protects farmworkers by defining them as essential workers, now eligible for the state’s personal protective equipment (PPE), among other resources.