Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
CC: Senate Judiciary Chairperson Mark Stone & Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon
Dear Governor Newsom,
The fast fashion industry is predominantly built on a system of speed and output, often at the sacrifice of garment workers’ rights to living wages, safe working conditions and worker protections. In your own backyard of Los Angeles, the largest apparel manufacturing hub in the U.S., garment workers face dangerous conditions that must be addressed.
With a blatant lack of corporate accountability for these conditions, the “Made in America” label, so proudly touted as a signal of quality, has become representative of injustices, such as wage theft, corporate irresponsibility and poor working conditions.
Today we demand that you sign the California State Legislature’s vote on Bill SB-62 to address these inequities head-on and protect the garment workers of California.
Garment worker wage inequities stem from three main issues:
The Piece-Rate System: In lieu of an hourly wage, some garment workers are paid per piece produced, often at mere pennies per garment or operation. The U.S. Labor Department found wage violations in 85 percent of the California garment factories it visited because of piece-rate work, which results in wages that fall far below the minimum wage – workers may work 60-75 hours and only receive $100 in compensation. SB-62 seeks to eliminate the piece-rate system of pay in favor of a fair, hourly wage, while still allowing for incentives based on productivity.
Corporate Irresponsibility: The complexity of the fast fashion supply chain, with its layers of manufacturers, sub-contractors and retailers, have circumvented fair wage practices for decades. SB-62 will prevent big business from shirking their responsibilities as employers by closing loopholes in existing laws and will also strengthen the power of investigative authorities to ensure accountability.
Poor Working Conditions: The fast fashion workforce is almost entirely, perhaps intentionally, built upon vulnerable groups, such as women of color, who are often undocumented. These individuals do not have the means to protect themselves, and instead tolerate inhumane working conditions at wages as low $5.85 an hour. Conditions have been even worse in the COVID-19 era: in the midst of the pandemic, L.A. Apparel’s factory was shut down twice by the health department after a virus outbreak that resulted in over 375 cases and four deaths due to working in close proximity without sanitation infrastructure.
SB-62 is the necessary means to end the unjust way the industry treats the workers upon which it relies for its existence. The bill will end the piece-rate system, implement brand guarantors to ensure corporate entities are held liable and increase the enforcement authority of the Labor Commissioner’s investigative bureau.
I am joining alongside fashion companies across the U.S. to advocate for these workers. In a country that espouses the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, these workers demand immediate legislative action.
As governor, we urge you to apply pressure to the legislative process to move quickly. We ask you to sign SB-62 and elevate its impact to set a precedent for labor rights nationwide. They have waited long enough for the rights they deserve.
Fair garment worker wages are more than the necessary means for corporate accountability – it’s a matter of justice, public health, racial and gender equity and a way to ensure industry longevity. SB-62 must be passed and signed as soon as possible.