CA Governor Newsom Signs New Law to Protect Warehouse Workers' Rights
September 22, 2021 -- California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 701. These new provisions require all companies using warehouse labor to disclose productivity quotas to employees and government agencies and ban use of algorithms that prevent employees from taking rests and bathroom breaks, thereby endangering their health and safety, the governor's office said. The legislation ensures workers cannot be fired or retaliated against for failing to meet an unsafe quota and allows them to pursue injunctive relief.*
“We cannot allow corporations to put profit over people. The hardworking warehouse employees who have helped sustain us during these unprecedented times should not have to risk injury or face punishment as a result of exploitative quotas that violate basic health and safety,” said Governor Newsom. “I’m proud to sign this legislation giving them the dignity, respect and safety they deserve and advancing California’s leadership at the forefront of workplace safety.”
While Newsom's office did not single out any company in the statement, the New York Times reported that the bill was written partly in response to high rates of injuries at Amazon warehouses. The rate at which Amazon workers suffer serious injuries was nearly double that of the rest of the warehousing industry last year, the newspaper reported, citing studies. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.**
AB 701, which was proposed by Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez (D- San Diego), also enables the Labor Commissioner to issue citations and access worker’s compensation data to identify facilities where there are high rates of injury likely due to the use of unsafe quotas.
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