California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Senate Bill 62, which requires garment industry employers to pay workers an hourly wage instead of piece-rate compensation.
The new law applies to employers with 26 or more employees and ensures workers earn a minimum wage of $14 per hour. About 85% of garment workers earn two to six cents per piece, which works out to only $5.15 per hour.
According to the bill, some retailers and manufacturers tried to avoid liability for stolen wages by “adding layers of contracting between themselves and the employees manufacturing the garments,” according to the bill.
In a statement, Newsom said, “California is holding corporations accountable and recognizing the dignity and humanity of our workers, who have helped build the fifth-largest economy in the world.” He continued, “These measures protect marginalized low-wage workers, many of whom are women of color and immigrants, ensuring they are paid what they are due and improving workplace conditions. We are committed to having their backs as we work to build a stronger, more inclusive economy.”
The bill will revise existing law to, “make clear that a person contracting to have garments made is liable for unpaid wages, damages, penalties, and other compensation owed to workers who manufacture those garments regardless of how many layers of contracting that person may use.” The bill doesn’t prohibit local municipalities from enacting their additional protections for garment workers.
Whenever laws that protect workers are enacted, corporations are quick to claim they will be forced to leave California (apparently to exploit workers elsewhere in States that do not have robust worker protections). So, it’s not surprising that American Apparel and Footwear Association said the bill would “drive garment manufacturing out of California” and reduce garment-making jobs available in the state.
Los Angeles is the center of garment manufacturing in the US, with about 2,000 manufacturers employing more than 40,000 workers. Many small factories often operate without proper registration or enforcement, which increases the risk of exploitation in the industry.
This bill is a big step in the right direction. After all, protecting California workers is the right thing to do.
California is consistently ranked as one of the most labor-friendly states in the country. Yet its workers’ compensation system remains so complicated that many workers find it difficult to get the benefits they need in a timely manner. What makes it so difficult to get workers’ compensation in California? Let us take a look.
Slow to Respond, Slow to Compensate
One of the biggest problems with California’s workers’ compensation system is that it is too slow to respond to the needs of injured workers. Injured workers are often made to wait for months – even years in some cases – before they can get the treatment and compensation they need.
The primary reason for the delay in getting workers’ compensation in California – according to the findings of a recently-conducted state audit – is the lack of qualified physicians within the system. Data shows that California has not increased the pay for qualified medical evaluators – who play a vital role in the workers’ compensation system – for more than 13 years.
The audit shows that between 2017 and 2018, California’s workers’ compensation program had a total of 2,800 medical evaluators. The total number of medical evaluation requests from injured workers during the same period of time, on the other hand, was over 100,000.
Hard to Navigate
Yet another reason why it is difficult to get workers’ compensation in California in a timely manner is that the system is hard to navigate for the average worker. The reason – according to experts – is that the people running the system are more concerned about procedural requirements and less concerned with the outcome. They have almost forgotten that their primary duty is to help the injured worker get better – not to delay the process for the flimsiest of reasons.
The Unintended Consequences of Delayed Care And Compensation
One of the most serious consequences of delayed care and compensation is that it increases the risk of permanent disabilities in injured workers. Especially, workers who suffer brain or spinal cord injuries cannot afford to wait for long, as the risk of permanent disability is extremely high in such cases.
How an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help You
One of the best ways to expedite your claims process is to hire an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney who can guide you through the process and help you get the medical care and compensation you need.
An experienced attorney can easily spot the pitfalls and obstacles that can delay your claims process and take steps to expedite it to the highest extent possible. They can also make sure that you are not unfairly denied any of the rights and benefits you are entitled to under the law.
Looking to File for Workers’ Compensation in California? We Can Help You!
For over 25 years, attorney Thomas F. Martin has been providing high-quality, passionate legal representation for injured workers in California. Recognized as one of the best workers’ compensation attorneys in California, Mr. Martin has represented thousands of injured workers over the years and helped them get the compensation they deserve.
If you have suffered an injury on the job and are in need of a lawyer whom you can trust and rely on, attorney Thomas F. Martin is the right choice for you. To know how we can help maximize your workers’ compensation in California, call us at 714-547-5025 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.
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Picture credit: https://newint.org/features/2019/01/07/trade-turmoil-chance-justice
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