California Wins Labor Reforms That Republicans Nearly Made Impossible

In the two weeks since Gavin Newsom defeated the recall vote, California union activists have seen a number of important victories.

The governor signed a week after the election FROM 701, a law requiring warehouse operators to make the quota systems they use transparent to workers and prohibiting the practice of using algorithms to minimize the number of toilet breaks workers can take. The law allows workers to sue for legal assistance against companies that unlawfully use such methods.

Then, a week later, on September 27, Newsom signed a legal troika designed to prop up wages and working conditions.

There was SB62, the Garment Workers Protection Act, for which trade unions and immigrant rights groups in the state have long campaigned. It prohibits the payment of piecework wages to workers who routinely violate minimum wage laws, sets hourly wages in the industry, and holds fashion companies, perhaps most heavily, liable for labor breaches and wage theft in factories they supply.

There are 45,000 textile workers in Los Angeles alone. the Center for clothing workers estimated last year they made an average of just $ 5.85 an hour, making them the most exploited workers in the country. All of these workers will benefit from the new legislation.

Next up was SB639which prohibited the practice of allowing companies to apply for a government license to hire disabled workers and then pay them sub-minimum wages. Supporters of disability rights have long pushed for such wage protection; now California has thrown its weight behind the notion that disabled workers should have the right to a living wage.

Finally there was SB 321, which asks Cal / OSHA to set up an advisory committee with the express aim of developing guidelines to better protect domestic workers, another group that in the past largely existed outside the state and federal safety net. The committee is mandated to make recommendations to the state legislature by early 2023 and is likely to spark a series of changes for the hundreds of thousands of workers serving more than 2 million households in the Golden State, so UCLA Labor Center estimates.

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