As legislators in states like California and New York work to pass laws that hold fashion brands accountable for their labor practices, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-D) has her sights set on the federal level.
On May 12, Sen. Gillibrand will bring the Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change Act — FABRIC Act for short — to the Senate, a first-of-its-kind federal bill that, as Alyssa Hardy explains in Vogue, would incentivize fashion companies to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. and improve the working conditions of their stateside facilities, and would penalize those who are found paying their workers less than the federal minimum hourly wage.
“We need to put a prohibition on predatory payments through the piece rates, but we also need to give these companies the incentives to bring the manufacturing back to the U.S. or make it possible for them to start up here in the first place,” Sen. Gillibrand told Vogue.
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Sen. Gillibrand worked with Ayesha Barenblat, the founder and CEO of the fashion advocacy group Remake, to draft the FABRIC Act, which would expand on the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and bring some of the groundwork laid out in California’s SB62, which passed last year, in regards to wage theft nation-wide. A range of industry groups have expressed their support, Vogue says, including the Model Alliance, Worker’s United, 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 program.
“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 L.A.’s Garment Worker Center, told Vogue. “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.”
According to Vogue, Sen. Gillibrand set to present the FABRIC Act to the public at a press conference on May 13 at Ferrera Manufacturing, located in New York City’s Garment District.