L.A. City Council Votes to Support Garment Worker Protection Act Before Bill Reintroduction

Just a week after a legislative timeline ran out for the Garment Worker Protection Act, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to give a statement of support to the bill. There was no discussion before the vote, which was presented by Councilman Gil Cedillo and seconded by Council President Nury Martinez.

The Garment Worker Protection Act is expected to be reintroduced to the California State Senate during the 2021–2022 legislative session by its author, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, a Democrat who represents East Los Angeles and parts of the downtown Los Angeles area, said Fredy Ceja, a Durazo spokesman. The bill was passed by the California Senate in a 25–11 vote on June 25. The bill ran out of time Aug. 28 when a constitutional deadline passed before voting could take place in the California State Assembly.

The Garment Worker Project Act proposes to eliminate piece-rate pay, a traditional garment-industry payment method, and replace it with the minimum wage, which is scheduled to go up to $15 per hour in California on Jan. 1, 2021.

One of the bill’s authors, Marissa Nuncio, director of the Garment Worker Center, said that the city council resolution is an important statement of support.

“We thank the city council for its support of the Garment Worker Protection Act. Los Angeles is the center of the state’s garment industry. The council’s support affirms how important it is to stand behind worker protections and fair business practices in this vital industry,” she said. “We look forward to building upon the wide support we’ve received throughout our campaign and introducing our bill again next year.”

Business-advocacy groups such as the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Fashion Association campaigned against the bill. In an Aug. 19 statement, CFA critiqued the bill as adding on a burdensome layer of bureaucracy to domestic manufacturing, which has been grappling with the harsh economic freeze of COVID-19. CFA also said that current law adequately protects worker compensation and punishes operations that commit wage theft.