Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Introduced the Nation’s First Federal Bill Seeking to Hold Fashion Brand’s Accountable
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has announced the first federal law aimed at holding fashion brands accountable for their labor practices.
On Thursday, May 12, the New York Democrat introduced the Senate to the Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change Act—FABRIC Act for short—a unique federal law designed to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, prohibiting employers from paying workers in the garment industry on a piece-rate basis.
The bill also requires manufacturers and contractors in the apparel industry to register with the Department of Labor, according to the abstract filed Thursday. It now sits on the Senate Finance Committee, with Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) listed as co-sponsors.
Senator Gillibrand announced earlier this week that she would present the bill in an interview with Vogue on Thursday. "We need to ban predatory piecework payments, but we also need to incentivize these companies to shift production back to the US or allow them to start here in the first place," Sen Gillibrand told the publication.
According to Vogue, a number of industry groups have expressed support, including 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.
This follows similar bills at the state level aimed at making fashion companies more accountable for their business practices.
A bill presented to the New York State Senate in January, dubbed the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act (or Fashion Act), aims to hold some of fashion's biggest brands accountable for their role in climate change. Under the auspices of State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and MP Anna Kelles, the bill will require fashion retailers and manufacturers to disclose their environmental and social due diligence policies; establishes a charitable fund to undertake one or more environmental benefit projects that directly and demonstrably benefit environmentally responsible communities.
Additionally, in March, Model Alliance founder Sara Ziff announced pro-worker legislation, The Fashion Workers Act, aimed at protecting New York City models and other fashion creatives from predatory management agencies that currently operate without oversight.
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