California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Monday that will have direct implications for garment workers, and could also upend the economics of the fashion supply chain. Senate Bill 62 requires apparel factories to pay workers an hourly rate instead of per-piece produced; it will also hold brands and retailers liable for wage theft in their supply chains in California, including when third-party contractors are involved.
“It is completely groundbreaking. That onus of responsibility is a very hard thing to win, which is why it’s an incredible success,” says Thulsi Narayanasamy, head of labour rights at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, based in London. “This is the first step we’ve really seen in a piece of legislation that shifts the business model. It puts the onus on [brands] to ensure they are paying their suppliers. That simply isn’t something that we’ve ever seen anywhere else.”