Garment workers in America's fashion capital may make just $6 an hour. A new law could change that

Los Angeles is considered the center of garment manufacturing in America, employing over 40,000 people to make clothing for fashion brands including Reformation, Forever 21, Charlotte Russe and Wet Seal.

But for decades those workers have functioned under a system that sees them paid per piece they construct, meaning they often earn less than $6 per hour, according to a University of California, Los Angeles, study – less than half of California’s minimum wage.

Now, a new law could change that.

Related: LA's mask factories shut down as hundreds of workers get sick

California lawmakers recently approved the Garment Worker Protection Act, which would eliminate the piece rate system and ensure workers are paid an hourly minimum wage. The bill would also expand who is liable for stolen wages – meaning a brand like Charlotte Russe, for example, would share responsibility for paying out wage theft claims filed by workers who make their clothing in factories such as the ones in downtown LA. Right now, those claims are filed against the factories themselves but can languish for years before being paid out, if they ever are.

Marissa Nuncio, the director of the Garment Worker Center and a co-sponsor of the bill, says this latter part is key, because brands have long been able to shield themselves by shifting the blame on to the factories that make their clothing. “Through subcontracting, they’re really able to buffer themselves and evade any kind of legal liability for improper wages,” Nuncio says.

Garment workers and advocates say the current system has been designed to incentivize rapid production while exploiting workers – most of whom are immigrants and women of color.

Workers such as Santiago Puac, an immigrant from Guatemala who has been in the garment industry for 17 years. Pauc works on a single-needle sewing machine, attaching zippers and labels to dresses and other small finishing details. It’s a job he says has taken a lot of skill to learn, since such details can be complicated.

But the work pays him just 15 cents or less per piece, meaning even on highly productive days he’s only taking home $75 a day.

“It would be such a big change in my life,” Puac told the Guardian in Spanish of the proposed law. “Knowing I could have a secure income, a set number of work hours, and earn a just wage.”

The Garment Worker Protection Act has already cleared the state legislature and is now awaiting the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom, who has until October to approve it.

The bill, which garment workers helped craft, would add heft to an existing law, passed in 1999, that also sought to address wage theft in the industry by setting up a restitution fund for wage theft claims that fashion companies pay into. But advocates say fashion brands have spent 20 years circumventing it by hiring contractors and claiming that they do not fall under its definition of “garment manufacturer”.

The law would make brands share joint liability with their contractors for unpaid wages, other compensation, interest, and penalties. Photograph: Wavebreakmedia Ltd UC103/Alamy Stock Photo

The new bill seeks to sharpen that definition by making brands share joint liability with their contractors for unpaid wages, other compensation, interest, and penalties.

The author of the bill, the state senator María Elena Durazo, says it originally intended to make brands fully liable for lost wages, but was later amended.

“Although personally I think they should be liable for everything, it gives recognition that the immediate employer would face the penalties and the brands would face the lost wages,” says Durazo.

While the California Chamber of Commerce, a business lobbying organization, has labeled the bill a “jobs killer”, many fashion brands have come out in support of it, saying the bill will not only help workers but level the playing field between companies that pay a living wage and those that don’t.

In July, a coalition of at least 70 fashion businesses wrote an open letter to the Chamber of Commerce saying: “The sustainable business community wants a level playing field, enabled by strong labor laws, because we believe it is crucial for California fashion to flourish well into the 21st century.”

Senator Durazo says these business owners are often women whose brand relies on their image of environmental sustainability and caring about their employees. Nuncio put it more bluntly: “They don’t want to compete with sweatshop users.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has also added urgency to the issue. Thousands continued to work throughout California’s lockdowns, with many shifting to making masks. Poor working conditions caused many garment workers to contract the virus.

“The pandemic exposed the inequities in our economy and rather than turn our backs on those workers, now’s the time to fix it,” says Durazo. “If we want to bring real meaning to the word ‘essential workers’, then let’s do that by helping them support their families.”

Puac says the financial boost would help him better support his six children, most of whom still live in Guatemala. “I could be with my family more, eat nutritious food,” he said, adding that fashion brands should be excited for workers to have more money in their pockets; they might even spend it on new clothes.

“I think the brand selling the clothing also benefits, because having a minimum wage would mean more of us buying their products. All of us that will have money because we make the wage we deserve, we too will have money to spend.”

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


This new dating and friendship app wants to help Asians and Pacific Islanders 'find community and belonging'

© Courtesy of Alike Courtesy of Alike Alike is a new dating and friendship app for the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. The app was created by Hanmin Yang, a ... Read more »

7 Times Kangana Ranaut showed how to hit festivities on a glam note with kurta suits

This festive season we hope you’re not just bundling up in sarees. Although, these flatter easily, don’t revert to these soon. There’s more to mood boards like kurta suits which ... Read more »

I'm a wedding planner. Here are answers to 10 questions guests are too embarrassed to ask.

© Geoff Goldswain/Shuttershock It’s normal to have questions about such an important event as a wedding. Geoff Goldswain/Shuttershock As a wedding planner, I’ve heard my fair share of questions. Here ... Read more »

Tiesitkö tätä suomalaiskaupoissa myytävästä lohesta? Monella on edelleen väärä käsitys kirjolohesta

Pro Kala ry muistuttaa, että kirjolohi on ympäristöystävällinen valinta. MTV Uutisten Makuja-ruokasivuilla on aiemmin kerrottu hämäävistä lohitermeistä. Ruokaohjeissa puhutaan usein ihan vaan lohesta, mutta kaupassa vastaan tuleekin merilohta ja kirjolohta. ... Read more »

NBA: How sneaker culture took basketball by storm

© GiveMeSport NBA 2K22 sneaker culture While the on-court action could be described as the heart of the game, the ‘sole’ belongs to the sneaker culture that has been part ... Read more »

My London: Little Simz

© Adobe Little Simz Home is… North London. I grew up there. Where would you recommend for a first date? I’d go rock climbing. I think activities are fun as ... Read more »

The Evolution of Cynthia ‘SimplyCyn' Andrew

© [@simplycyn]({: rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”} Glamour’s Women to Watch series spotlights women who are redefining what it means to be an influencer. Yes, they have “personal brands” and rapidly growing social ... Read more »

En cuisine avec : mes meringues fantômes d'Halloween

A Halloween, on a envie d’une scénographie digne des meilleurs films de Tim Burton, et à ce jeu-là, les meringues fantômes ont tout bon ! © ELLE à table Meringues ... Read more »

Pfingstrosen im Herbst schneiden: Ja oder nein?

© Bereitgestellt von Mein schöner Garten Strauchpfingstrose ‘Phoenix of China’ Über das Schneiden von Pfingstrosen hört man immer wieder unterschiedliche Meinungen: Mal soll man sie im Herbst schneiden, mal nicht. ... Read more »

Lawyer for Brian Laundrie's family addresses speculation about how easily his dad found his belongings, saying the public 'doesn't understand simplicity'

© Courtesy of Schmidt and Petito family Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie. Courtesy of the Schmidt and Petito family The Laundrie family’s lawyer pushed back on speculation about how Brian’s ... Read more »

South Korean workers wear ‘Squid Game' outfits during protest for better work conditions

© AP AP_21293338699923.jpg South Korean workers are utilising the worldwide popularity of Squid Game by wearing costumes from the show to shine attention on a protest for better working conditions. ... Read more »

Janhvi Kapoor's airport style was blazing hot & cool in a blazer & striped pants; Yay or Nay?

Blazers have now officially taken over our lives again with offices and events that are almost back in action. That’s probably how versatile a blazer can get and it’s gaining ... Read more »

Für Mama, Papa & Co.: Das sind die besten Weihnachtsgeschenke für deine Familie, die du ab 14 Euro shoppen kannst

© Getty Images Weihnachtsgeschenke für die Familie: 45 tolle Ideen, die perfekt für Weihnachten sind Strümpfe, Kochtöpfe und billiges Parfüm: Ärgerst du dich auch jedes Jahr aufs Neue, wenn du ... Read more »

Avocado Oil and its surprising benefits for your dry skin and damaged hair

We know the avocado as being one of the healthiest and tastiest fruits and unique too. Loaded with healthy fats, they are extremely nutritious and packed with fibre. They have ... Read more »

Katrina Kaif chic airport style consisted of a black outfit layered with Chloé's hot pink jacket: Yay or Nay?

Katrina Kaif has always flaunted her effortless style with ease. If anyone in Bollywood has always prioritised comfort over fashion, it has always been this actress. And it is this ... Read more »

In vs. out: Diese 3 Rouge-Trends sind im Herbst 2021 out - und so tragen wir Blush jetzt stattdessen

© Getty Images Blush auftragen im Herbst 2021: Diese 3 Rouge-Trends sind in und diese 3 out & Im Herbst beginnt sich unser Sommerteint langsam aber sicher zu verabschieden. Wie ... Read more »

Haare schneller trocknen: Mit diesen Styling-Produkten verringerst du die Föhnzeit und schonst dein Haar

© Getty Images Mit diesen Styling-Produkten kannst du deine Haare schneller trocknen und die Föhnzeit verringern & Das Haaretrocknen kann ganz schön die Geduld beanspruchen, vor allem wenn man bedenkt, ... Read more »

Laut Horoskop: Das ist die perfekte Winter-Haarfarbe für dein Sternzeichen

© Getty Images (2); Collage: Condé Nast Das ist deine perfekte Winter-Haarfarbe laut deines Sternzeichens & Du willst dir ein kleines Make-over verpassen, noch bevor der Winter Einzug hält? Dann ... Read more »

Super praktický rotační třásňový mop Vileda TURBO pro snadný a efektivní úklid

© Poskytovatel: > Čistou podlahu doma udržíte snadno pomocí toho pravého pomocníka. Rotační třásňový mop Vileda TURBO díky svým unikátním vlastnostem spolehlivě vyčistí všechny druhy tvrdých povrchů a dostane ... Read more »

Gabi and Shanna From 27Travels Want to Help Queer Women See the World

© [@flytographer]({: rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”} Glamour’s Women to Watch series spotlights women who are redefining what it means to be an influencer. Yes, they have “personal brands” and rapidly growing social ... Read more »

Would You Rent Your Favorite Bag for Serious Cash?

© HBO Violet Gross is turning your wardrobe into a revenue stream with Tulerie. There’s a moment in Sex and the City when Carrie Bradshaw realizes she has $40,000 worth ... Read more »

7 Best stationery advent calendars for kids

© Provided by Hello! stationery-calendars Searching for a more creative advent calendar this year? Stationery advent calendars are hugely popular right now and there’s plenty of fun and festive themes ... Read more »

WATCH: Miss SA Lalela Mswane moves into her new home

© Provided by Independent Online (IOL) The newly crowned Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane moved into her posh apartment in Sandton. The 24-year-old from KwaSokhulu in Richards Bay was crowned ... Read more »

5 Dupes for the Always-Sold-Out Clinique Black Honey Lipstick That All Cost Less Than $10

© Photo: Getty/SanneBerg clinique black honey dupes Beauty trends might change every season, but more often than not, at least one of the season’s go-tos is something that’s not entirely ... Read more »

Teacher placed on leave after video of her mocking Native Americans in math class

© Instagram/ @@corn_maiden_designs teacher mocks native americans A California teacher has been placed on leave after being accused of ridiculing Native American culture by dancing around the room, making noises ... Read more »

Cambuslang tattoo artist makes his mark with awards win

A Cambuslang tattoo artist has made his mark on the competition after landing a top award. Toby Erskine, who runs Toby’s Tattoos on Mitchell Avenue in Westburn, won the Best ... Read more »

Covid-19 : le taux d'incidence augmente chez les plus de 60 ans

© Getty Images Covid-19 : le taux d’incidence augmente chez les plus de 60 ans La troisième dose de rappel est particulièrement importante chez cette population à risque, alors que ... Read more »

La recette de la tartelette au sirop d'érable étoilée du restaurant Septime

© Alexandre Guirkinger Tartelettes au sirop d’érable, crème fouettée à la vanille Pour 6 personnes Pour la crème fouettée Crème fleurette 100 g Gousse de vanille 1⁄4 Sucre blond en ... Read more »

Voici pourquoi vous ne devriez surtout pas rincer votre bouche après le brossage de dents

On se laverait mal les dents depuis toutes ces années… Le rinçage habituel après s’être brossé les dents n’est en réalité pas du tout recommandé par les dentistes. Pour quelles ... Read more »

Comment nettoyer sa cheminée avec du vinaigre blanc ?

© Fournis par Maison & Travaux nettoyer-cheminee-vinaigre-blanc Pour profiter d’un bon feu de cheminée tout l’hiver, il est essentiel d’entretenir les nombreux accessoires qui peuvent vite s’encrasser. Découvrez comment nettoyer ... Read more »

Coloration végétale : la méthode naturelle pour teindre ses cheveux sans les abîmer

Fâchée contre les colos qui ont transformé votre chevelure en botte de paille ? La coloration végétale pourrait bien adoucir votre rancœur… Le point avec Christophe-Nicolas Biot, expert de la ... Read more »

Are you team stay-in-flats or back-to-heels?

© Getty; Instagram/beyonce Emma Raducanu’s Nike trainers and Beyoncé’s Versace platforms are the most-wanted shoes in the world this autumn – Getty; Instagram/beyonce Post-pandemic we are a nation divided – ... Read more »

Alia Bhatt's Y2K fashion looks were painted peppy with faux leather pants, a crop top & jeans; Yay or Nay?

Keep stalking for outfits to gratify your style needs and you’ll end up with the ones that belong to the Y2K era. Having hopped back to the fashion world, Millenials ... Read more »

Beauty-Allrounder Kürbis: Deswegen solltest du ihn jetzt unbedingt in deine Pflege-Routine integrieren

© Getty Images Beauty-Allrounder: Deswegen eignet sich Kürbis für deine Hautpflege und die Haare & Kein Herbst ohne Kürbis! Sobald es draußen kälter und ungemütlicher wird, hält das Fruchtgemüse Einzug ... Read more »

When is Rishi Sunak's Autumn Budget 2021 and what announcements are expected? Explained

In the past month, a £20 a week Universal Credit lifeline has been revoked, furlough has been shut down and an energy crisis has unravelled – with household bills set ... Read more »

Toast Global Champagne Day with these sparkling stars

© Provided by Independent Online (IOL) Today is Global Champagne Day, a day that is dedicated to enjoying the bubbly drink and its origins. Champagne Day was initiated by an ... Read more »

Martha Stewarts Rezept für Apfel-Auflauf mit Zimt

Dieser köstliche Auflauf mit Apfel und Zimt ist genau das Soulfood, nach dem wir uns in den kühlen Monaten sehnen. Hier geht’s zum Rezept von Martha Stewart © ISTOCKPHOTO Martha ... Read more »

Les 3 expositions bijoux à voir cet automne à Paris

© Van Cleef & Arpels clip bouquet 1940 P.Gries Diadème ayant appartenu à la duchesse de Windsor, montre révolutionnaire ou encore parure exceptionnelle… Des pièces incroyables à voir le temps ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic