Ayesha Barenblat, the founder and CEO of the fashion advocacy group Remake who helped draft the bill, explained that creating and updating garment jobs in the US is more critical than ever due to the fractured global supply chain.
“The supply chain changes since the pandemic have made business difficult for many brands, and for the first time, we are seeing interest in nearshoring products,” Barenblat says, citing the example of mask and PPE supplies during the early parts of 2020. The US had to rely on imports in an emergency when they could have been made domestically if the infrastructure allowed for it. The problem is two-fold since many of the factories in the US are severely behind from a technological standpoint, she adds.
“When you go to Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and other places around the world, you see that the industry has moved on,” she explains. “The grant could allow for necessary updates that will bring in a larger workforce.”
Both Gillibrand and advocates supporting the bill say that bipartisan support is likely. “Several of my Republican colleagues are working on bills around imports from China, and the FABRIC Act would support those efforts,” Gillibrand explains. Barenblat echoes that sentiment, mentioning that workforce development and revitalisation is of interest across the country, not just in New York and California. It’s something she is confident representatives across the board can get behind.
Garment workers in California who fought for the passage of SB62 are also offering their support for a federal extension. “The FABRIC Act is necessary because it will advance the wellbeing of garment workers and their families,” Cris Lopez, a garment worker and member of the Garment Worker Center in Los Angeles, says via email. “The FABRIC Act not only offers workers protections for our wages but also provides investment in the industry. This promises more jobs and better wages, which ultimately supports those most in need — our children, the elderly — and ensures better education, health and housing opportunities.”
Senator Gillibrand will hold a press conference on 13 May introducing the bill to the press at the Ferrara factory in New York City’s garment district. “As a domestic manufacturer, it would create vital programmes to expand our unionised workforce as well as innovate using advanced machinery to modernise our prestigious trade,” COO Gabrielle Ferrara told Vogue about the business’s support for the bill. Workers in the Ferrara factory are currently unionised through Workers United, another endorser of the bill. Other industry endorsers include The Model Alliance, Fashion Revolution, Center for the Advancement of Garment Making, Fashion Connection, Skilled Laborers Brigade, Sustainable Brooklyn, Custom Collaborative, The Slow Factory, New Standard Institute, and the California College of the Arts fashion design programme.
This article first appeared on Vogue.com.
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