On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Garment Worker Protection Act (known as SB 62) into law.
The bill’s patch-up of the previous law’s loopholes aims to ensure justice and greater protection for the more than 45,000 garment workers, the majority of whom are women of color, in the Los Angeles area.
“Today we won justice for garment workers. We are one step closer to ending wage theft and holding brands accountable for exploitation they have enabled. Ethical fashion is the future,” Tweeted Maria Elena Durazo, a sponsoring senator to the bill, in the moments after it was signed.
SB 62 will eliminate piece-rate pay — correlated to the industry’s high rates of wage theft and sub-minimum wages — and issue joint liability so brands, subcontractors and workers are all brought to the negotiating table.
With the bill (then named SB 1399) meeting a session time-out last year because the Assembly adjourned, media coverage rose to a fever pitch in the weeks leading up to SB 62’s historic journey through the California State Legislature this September. More than 140 businesses, including Reformation and Eileen Fisher, came out in support of the bill, joining the Garment Worker Center’s business coalition.
“Fair and ethical labor is at the heart of a more sustainable fashion industry and the final passage of SB 62 into law sends a clear message that California is ready to lead that change,” Kristen Fanarakis, a Los Angeles-based business owner of fashion brand Senza Tempo, told WWD.
The days leading up to the bill’s passage were fueled by a rush of advocacy despite earlier opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce and a handful of industry trade organizations. The Los Angeles City Council passed a pro-SB 62 resolution last Friday urging Gov. Newsom to sign the act in a final push. Council president Nury Martinez, as well as council members Mike Bonin, Monica Rodriguez and Nithya Raman, among others, were in support of the resolution.
In the letter to Newsom, council president Martinez said: “We may not be able to undo the damage that has been done, but we can enact SB 62 to ensure that we hold the garment industry accountable moving forward. Ultimately, we need to protect our low-income and immigrant communities from exploitation in every sector.”
The passage was met with a heartfelt moment of gratitude from the Garment Worker Center, a tireless supporter and cosponsor of the bill.
“Thank you to our members, to garment workers, to these bold and brave workers who organized while working long hours in subpar conditions for subminimum wages. Thank you to our partners, our sponsors, to our allies, to everyone who has spoken out and shared our mission,” the organization wrote in a message shared on Twitter.